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Heritability of progeny size in a terrestrial isopod: transgenerational environmental effects on a life history trait

Carter, M.J., Lardies, M.A., Nespolo, R.F., Bozinovic, F.
Heredity 2004 v.93 no.5 pp. 455-459
Porcellio, heritability, body size, life history, maternal effect, phenotypic variation, nutrient availability, diet, protein content, carbohydrate content
Maternal effects, the environment that mothers provide to their offspring, their provision of nutrients and the environment that offspring of the same clutch share, have come to be recognized as an important influence on offspring fitness. In addition, in invertebrates, maternal effects and common environment may change according to a mother's diet. We tested for the changes in quantitative genetic parameters in a half-sib design where mothers were fed diets varying in nutrient content. Surprisingly, we found that not only maternal and common environmental variance changed with experimental diets but also there were significant changes in narrow-sense heritabilities, with corresponding h2 values of 0.61 (high protein), 0.08 (high carbohydrate) and 0.001 (equal carbohydrate:protein). Our results show how an environmentally driven evolutionary process could occur in nature, since the response to selection could change dramatically according to the composition of the diet that females are ingesting.