Pigmentation Plasticity

transcriptomics, Pelobates cultripes, pigmentation

An organism’s capacity to track and resemble its background (‘background matching’) is an important cryptic mechanism in the animal kingdom. Some species have evolved facultative colour change, a remarkable form of phenotypic plasticity, to match temporally or spatially heterogeneous backgrounds. Here, we quantify the capacity of such facultative changes in pigmentation in Western Spadefoot tadpoles (Pelobates cultripes), by manipulating the background colour of aquaria. We find that tadpoles of this species are capable of detecting and responding to even minor changes in background brightness by adjusting the pigmentation content in their skin. We study this pigmentation plasticity in more detail, using various techniques, including transcriptomics, to identify the genes and gene networks that are being differentially expressed.

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[transcriptomics Pelobates cultripes pigmentation]
Ivan Gomez-Mestre, Karem López
March 15, 2022