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Molecular mechanisms of noise and robustness

Robustness, the inverse of noise, is a molecularly programmed feature of biological systems. The molecular networks of some organismal phenotypes like development are designed to maximize robustness, while other phenotypes like disease resistance have their pathways structured to allow for decreased robustness/increased noise to counteract evolution in the attacking organism.

Changing environments induce phenotype-specific responses. Phenotypic responses to changing environments range from plastic to robust. Environmental changes that occur predictably lead to programmed responses. Shown here is the transition between vegetative and reproductive growth induced by seasonal exposures to low and then high temperatures.
Changing environments induce phenotype-specific responses. Phenotypic responses to changing environments range from plastic to robust. Environmental changes that occur predictably lead to programmed responses. Shown here is the transition between vegetative and reproductive growth induced by seasonal exposures to low and then high temperatures. For more details see Lachowiec et al. (2016).

Lachowiec et al. describe the specific molecular components that are utilized in networks to finely tune the proper level of robustness/noise for an array of phenotypes.

Written by Annals of Botany Office

The Annals of Botany Office is based at the University of Oxford.

Do plant traits predict the competitive abilities of closely related species?

Cephalotaxus koreana. (A) Branch with male cones before pollen shedding. (B) Female cones with pollination drops.

Pollination drop proteins and ovule transcripts of Cephalotaxus