Jonah Mische, Jack Shumway
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Wadgymar
Plants are sessile, meaning that they cannot relocate in response to changes in their environment. Consequently, many plant species have evolved the ability to alter their development or appearance in response to unfavorable conditions. These non-genetic alterations are called phenotypic plasticity, and these changes may benefit plants by allowing them to avoid or tolerate environmental stress. One of the most well known examples of phenotypic plasticity in plants is Shade Avoidance Syndrome (SAS). Plants that employ SAS undergo a suite of developmental changes upon perceiving reduced red light levels relative to far-red light levels due to shading from other plants. These phenotypic changes cumulatively enhance light acquisition and accelerate development to increase reproductive success. Here, we characterize the extent to which the annual plant Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae) responds plastically to simulated shade and the extent of variation in responses among distinct genotypes.