Editorial

We would like to thank the Editor-in-Chief Prof. G. K. Ananthasuresh for giving us the opportunity to bring out this special issue of the Journal of Indian Institute of Science in its 100th Volume, themed ‘Phenotypic Plasticity’. The idea of this issue originated from a SPARC (Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration) grant that we were awarded recently, to dissect the contribution of phenotypic plasticity in cancer metastasis using an integrated computational-experimental approach.

Phenotypic plasticity—the ability of cells or organisms to display more than one phenotype (a group of traits or characteristics that can be observed) in response to varying environments despite possessing the same genotype (genetic makeup of a cell)—is not something specific to cancer; instead, it is a universal property among many cells and living organisms in response to the dynamic and complex nature of their environments. It can generate variations in morphology, biochemistry, physiology, and the life history of an organism—from embryonic development to disease manifestations in adult life. Thus, phenotypic plasticity can be exhibited across scales of length, time, and biological organization.

This diversity in manifestations of phenotypic plasticity is being captured in constituent articles in this special issue, from those focusing on yeast metabolism and bacterial motility all the way to cancer progression and metastasis. Thematically speaking, the authors who have contributed to this special issue and their host institutions and departments—Prof. Paike Jayadeva Bhat (IIT Bombay), Prof. Shalmoli Bhattacharyya (PGIMER Chandigarh), Dr. Biplab Bose (IIT Guwahati), Dr. Riddhiman Dhar (IIT Kharagpur), Dr. Prashant Kumar (IoB, Bangalore), Prof. Annapoorni Rangarajan (IISc, Bangalore), Prof. Pritha Ray (ACTREC, Mumbai), Dr. Supreet Saini (IIT Bombay), Dr. Varsha Singh (IISc, Bangalore), and Dr. Ankur Sharma (GIS, Singapore)—each have a very different research focus—from genome evolution to multistability in biological systems. Therefore, we sincerely believe that this interdisciplinary collection of articles will provide a unique perspective of various methods, tools, and techniques used to probe these fundamental questions related to mechanisms and implications of phenotypic plasticity in diverse biological systems. Thus, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all authors who kindly agreed to share their expertise in this special issue, as well as peer reviewers of these manuscripts.

Moreover, we hope that this special issue will further foster an inter-disciplinary collaborative dialogue to tackle these open key questions in the role of phenotypic plasticity in development, evolution and human diseases. This special issue also embodies the inclusive spirit of scientific enquiry, as represented by diversity in gender and geography, besides diverse academic backgrounds.

Overall, these ten manuscripts provide an excellent review of the inter-disciplinary approaches used to decode the emergent principles of phenotypic plasticity operating across scales of biological regulation and evolution. We would like to thank everyone from the offices of the Journal of Indian Institute of Science and its publishers, the Office of Communications from the Institute as well as Springer, particularly Ms. Kavitha Harish and Mr. Abishek Sundaram, for their help and cooperation in bringing out the issue.

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Correspondence to Mohit Kumar Jolly.

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Jolly, M.K., Rangarajan, A., Thompson, E.W. et al. Editorial. J Indian Inst Sci 100, 449–450 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41745-020-00181-6

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