Coastal oceans are particularly affected by rapid and extreme environmental changes with dramatic consequences for the entire ecosystem. Seagrasses are key ecosystem engineering or foundation species supporting diverse and productive ecosystems along the coastline that are particularly susceptible to fast environmental changes. In this context, the analysis of phenotypic plasticity could reveal important insights into seagrasses persistence, as it represents an individual property that allows species’ phenotypes to accommodate and react to fast environmental changes and stress. Many studies have provided different definitions of plasticity and related processes (acclimation and adaptation) resulting in a variety of associated terminology. Here, we review different ways to define phenotypic plasticity with particular reference to seagrass responses to single and multiple stressors. We relate plasticity to the shape of reaction norms, resulting from genotype by environment interactions, and examine its role in the presence of environmental shifts. The potential role of genetic and epigenetic changes in underlying seagrasses plasticity in face of environmental changes is also discussed. Different approaches aimed to assess local acclimation and adaptation in seagrasses are explored, explaining strengths and weaknesses based on the main results obtained from the most recent literature. We conclude that the implemented experimental approaches, whether performed with controlled or field experiments, provide new insights to explore the basis of plasticity in seagrasses. However, an improvement of molecular analysis and the application of multi-factorial experiments are required to better explore genetic and epigenetic adjustments to rapid environmental shifts. These considerations revealed the potential for selecting the best phenotypes to promote assisted evolution with fundamental implications on restoration and preservation efforts.

Phenotypic plasticity under rapid global changes: The intrinsic force for future seagrasses survival

Pazzaglia J.;Terlizzi A.;
2021-01-01

Abstract

Coastal oceans are particularly affected by rapid and extreme environmental changes with dramatic consequences for the entire ecosystem. Seagrasses are key ecosystem engineering or foundation species supporting diverse and productive ecosystems along the coastline that are particularly susceptible to fast environmental changes. In this context, the analysis of phenotypic plasticity could reveal important insights into seagrasses persistence, as it represents an individual property that allows species’ phenotypes to accommodate and react to fast environmental changes and stress. Many studies have provided different definitions of plasticity and related processes (acclimation and adaptation) resulting in a variety of associated terminology. Here, we review different ways to define phenotypic plasticity with particular reference to seagrass responses to single and multiple stressors. We relate plasticity to the shape of reaction norms, resulting from genotype by environment interactions, and examine its role in the presence of environmental shifts. The potential role of genetic and epigenetic changes in underlying seagrasses plasticity in face of environmental changes is also discussed. Different approaches aimed to assess local acclimation and adaptation in seagrasses are explored, explaining strengths and weaknesses based on the main results obtained from the most recent literature. We conclude that the implemented experimental approaches, whether performed with controlled or field experiments, provide new insights to explore the basis of plasticity in seagrasses. However, an improvement of molecular analysis and the application of multi-factorial experiments are required to better explore genetic and epigenetic adjustments to rapid environmental shifts. These considerations revealed the potential for selecting the best phenotypes to promote assisted evolution with fundamental implications on restoration and preservation efforts.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/2996353
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