Genetic and environmental canalization are not associated among altitudinally varying populations of
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Organisms are exposed to environmental and mutational effects influencing both mean and variance of phenotypes. Potentially deleterious effects arising from this variation can be reduced by the evolution of buffering (canalizing) mechanisms, ultimately reducing phenotypic variability. There has been interest regarding the conditions enabling the evolution of canalization. Under some models, the circumstances under which genetic canalization evolves are limited despite apparent empirical evidence for it. It has been argued that genetic canalization evolves as a correlated response to environmental canalization (congruence model). Yet, empirical evidence has not consistently supported predictions of a correlation between genetic and environmental canalization. In a recent study, a population of Drosophila adapted to high altitude showed evidence of genetic decanalization relative to those from low altitudes. Using strains derived from these populations, we tested if they varied for multiple aspects of environmental canalization We observed the expected differences in wing size, shape, cell (trichome) density and mutational defects between high- and low-altitude populations. However, we observed little evidence for a relationship between measures of environmental canalization with population or with defect frequency. Our results do not support the predicted association between genetic and environmental canalization.
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