All living organisms are developmentally plastic. This plasticity allows individuals to invest resources into the traits that offer them the greatest likelihood of success. Although we have a strong understanding of the different environments that trigger plasticity, we don’t understand why changes in investment result in changes in trait relationships. This is especially true in traits that occur in different dimensions (e.g. physiology and morphology).

Our goal is to interconnect the environment and the adult phenotype by understanding how gene expression moderates cellular and tissue development, and how this leads to differential energy use. This will provide insight into the differential costs of trait development, the mechanism behind trade-offs, and how this leads to differences in adult traits and behaviours. It’s going to be a lot of work!

Researchers involved: Michael Kasumovic and Vincent Duong

This project is funded by an ARC Future Fellowship.