Transgenerational effects of mild heat in Arabidopsis thaliana show strong genotype specificity that is explained by climate at origin

Maartje P. Groot*, Alexander Kubisch, Joop Ouborg, Jorn Pagel, Karl J. Schmid, P. Vergeer, Christian Lampei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Transgenerational environmental effects can trigger strong phenotypic variation. However, it is unclear how cues from different preceding generations interact. Also, little is known about the genetic variation for these life history traits.
Here, we present the effects of grandparental and parental mild heat, and their combination, on four traits of the third‐generation phenotype of 14 Arabidopsis thaliana genotypes. We tested for correlations of these effects with climate and constructed a conceptual model to identify the environmental conditions that favour the parental effect on flowering time.
We observed strong evidence for genotype‐specific transgenerational effects. On average, A. thaliana accustomed to mild heat produced more seeds after two generations. Parental effects overruled grandparental effects in all traits except reproductive biomass. Flowering was generally accelerated by all transgenerational effects. Notably, the parental effect triggered earliest flowering in genotypes adapted to dry summers. Accordingly, this parental effect was favoured in the model when early summer heat terminated the growing season and environments were correlated across generations.
Our results suggest that A. thaliana can partly accustom to mild heat over two generations and genotype‐specific parental effects show non‐random evolutionary divergence across populations that may support climate change adaptation in the Mediterranean.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1221-1234
Number of pages14
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


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