Reduced physiological plasticity in a fish adapted to stable temperatures
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPNAS. 2022, 119 (22), e2201919119. 10.1073/pnas.2201919119
Plasticity can allow organisms to maintain consistent performance across a wide range of environmental conditions. However, it remains largely unknown how costly plasticity is and whether a trade-off exists between plasticity and performance under optimal conditions. Biological rates generally increase with temperature, and to counter that effect, fish use physiological plasticity to adjust their biochemical and physiological functions. Zebrafish in the wild encounter large daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations, suggesting they should display high physiological plasticity. Conversely, laboratory zebrafish have been at optimal temperatures with low thermal fluctuations for over 150 generations. We treated this domestication as an evolution experiment and asked whether this has reduced the physiological plasticity of laboratory fish compared to their wild counterparts. We measured a diverse range of phenotypic traits, from gene expression through physiology to behavior, in wild and laboratory zebrafish acclimated to 15 temperatures from 10 °C to 38 °C. We show that adaptation to the laboratory environment has had major effects on all levels of biology. Laboratory fish show reduced plasticity and are thus less able to counter the direct effects of temperature on key traits like metabolic rates and thermal tolerance, and this difference is detectable down to gene expression level. Rapid selection for faster growth in stable laboratory environments appears to have carried with it a trade-off against physiological plasticity in captive zebrafish compared with their wild counterparts.