With climate change on the horizon, it is important to understand the consequences this will have on our oceans. The marine copepod, Acartia tonsa, was selected as a model organism in a study conducted by Brennen et al. This study aimed to clarify the relationship between adaptation and transcriptional plasticity. The study compared species found in their home environment with that those under experimental future projections. Different groups were kept in either one condition or the other, while others started in one and were kept for 20 generations before transitioning to the alternative. The results revealed that A total of 1876 genes were differentially expressed between control and experimentally evolved replicate lines. These genes are primarily related to stress response, gene expression regulation, actin regulation, developmental processes, and energy production.
It was revealed that there were faster losses of plasticity during rapid adaptation than theory would predict. The results showed that although plasticity did not impede adaptation, adaptation eroded plasticity. Losing plasticity does not stop organisms from somewhat reverting back to their ancestral conditions; however, it does result in a trade-off of losing adaptive genetic variation.
The use of experimental evolution is very important to understanding adaptive mechanisms. Since these are going to be the conditions future organisms will exist in, Understanding future mechanisms is just as important as understanding the current mechanisms in order to create comprehensive conservation strategies. These strategies require foresight to ensure their efficacy for the ecosystems of the future. It also revealed possible implications should we cut out emissions and revert back to cooler and less acidic conditions, which can further aid the formulation of such strategies.
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