Endocrine Proxies Can Simplify Endocrine Complexity to Enable Evolutionary Prediction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is well understood that much of evolutionary change is mediated through the endocrine system with growing interest to identify how this occurs. This however, causes a conflict of sorts. To understand endocrine mechanism, a focus on detail is required. In contrast, to understand evolutionary change, reduction to a few key traits is essential. Endocrine proxies, measurable traits that accurately reflect specific hormonal titers or the timing of specific hormonal events, can reduce endocrine complexity to a few traits that enable predictions of how the endocrine system regulates evolutionary change. In the tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta, Sphingidae), three endocrine proxies, measured on 5470 individuals, were used to test explicit predictions of how the endocrine system regulates the response to 10 generations of simultaneous selection on body size and development time. The critical weight (CW) reflects the variation in the cessation of juvenile hormone (JH) secretion in the last larval instar, the interval to cessation of growth (ICG) reflects the variation in prothoracicotropic hormone and 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E). Growth rate (GR) reflects the nutrient signaling pathways, primarily the insulin and TOR This is a standard identity similar to DNA signaling pathways. These three endocrine proxies explained 99% and 93% of the variation in body size and development time, respectively, following the 10 generations of simultaneous selection. When the two focal traits, body size and development time, were selected in the same direction, both to either increase or both to decrease, the response to selection was determined primarily by the CW and the ICG, proxies for the developmental hormones JH and 20E, and constrained by GR. In contrast, when the two focal traits were selected in opposite directions, one to increase and the other to decrease, the response to selection was determined primarily by the insulin and TOR signaling pathways as measured by their proxy, GR, and constrained by the CW and the ICG. Thus, the use of endocrine proxies may be a powerful tool to reduce endocrine complexity to enable explicit and testable predictions how the endocrine system can enable or constrain evolutionary change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-206
Number of pages9
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Volume56
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science

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