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Journal Articles Genetica Year : 2022

Solving the grand challenge of phenotypic integration: allometry across scales


Phenotypic integration is a concept related to the cascade of trait relationships from the lowest organizational levels, i.e. genes, to the highest, i.e. whole-organism traits. However, the cause-and-effect linkages between traits are notoriously difficult to determine. In particular, we still lack a mathematical framework to model the relationships involved in the integration of phenotypic traits. Here, we argue that allometric models developed in ecology offer testable mathematical equations of trait relationships across scales. We first show that allometric relationships are pervasive in biology at different organizational scales and in different taxa. We then present mechanistic models that explain the origin of allometric relationships. In addition, we emphasized that recent studies showed that natural variation does exist for allometric parameters, suggesting a role for genetic variability, selection and evolution. Consequently, we advocate that it is time to examine the genetic determinism of allometries, as well as to question in more detail the role of genome size in subsequent scaling relationships. More broadly, a possible-but so far neglected-solution to understand phenotypic integration is to examine allometric relationships at different organizational levels (cell, tissue, organ, organism) and in contrasted species.
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hal-03745940 , version 1 (04-08-2022)




François Vasseur, Adrianus Johannes Westgeest, Denis Vile, Cyrille Violle. Solving the grand challenge of phenotypic integration: allometry across scales. Genetica, 2022, 150 (3-4), pp.161-169. ⟨10.1007/s10709-022-00158-6⟩. ⟨hal-03745940⟩
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