Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 132, Issue 1, pp 33–47 | Cite as

Induced mutations alter patterns of quantitative variation, phenotypic integration, and plasticity to elevated CO2 in Arabidopsis thaliana

  • Mark JonasEmail author
  • Dania Navarro
Regular Paper


A key step toward predicting responses to climate change is characterizing genetic variation in populations. While short-term responses will likely be shaped by currently available genetic variation, longer-term evolutionary responses will depend on the supply of novel variation by, ultimately, mutation. Studying mutational contributions to phenotypic variation can provide insights into the extent of potential variation on which selection may operate in future human-altered environments. Here we used the chemical mutagen ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) to explore mutational contributions to phenotypic variation, integration, and plasticity to elevated carbon dioxide (eCO2) in three accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana. We found that (1) mutagenesis increased broad-sense heritabilities and variation in plasticity to eCO2 (genotype by environment interactions); (2) mutational effects varied among the three genetic backgrounds; (3) induced mutations had non-random (biased) effects on patterns of phenotypic integration. To our knowledge, this is the first study to address the effects of chemically induced mutations on phenotypic plasticity to eCO2 in a model plant. We discuss our results in light of emerging insights from theoretical and empirical quantitative genetics, suggest potential avenues of research, and identify approaches that may help advance our understanding of climate-driven evolution in plants.


Arabidopsis thaliana Climate change Carbon dioxide Mutations Phenotypic integration Phenotypic plasticity 



Part of this work was funded by startup grants to Massimo Pigliucci at Stony Brook University and MJ at Purchase College—SUNY. Edits by and discussions with Mike Bell, Elysse Craddock, R. Geeta, Massimo Pigliucci, and John True greatly improved previous versions of the manuscript. We thank two anonymous reviewers for providing helpful feedback on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10265_2018_1064_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (409 kb)
Supplementary material 1 Supplemental Data 1 (PDF 409 KB)
10265_2018_1064_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (110 kb)
Supplementary material 2 Table S1, Table S2 (PDF 110 KB)


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© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, School of Natural and Social SciencesState University of New York—Purchase CollegePurchaseUSA

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