Maternal environmental effects of competition influence evolutionary potential in rapeseed (Brassica rapa)

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Biological Sciences

Publication Date



Maternal environmental effects reflect the contribution of the maternal environment to the offspring phenotype. Maternal effects are prevalent in plants and animals and may undergo adaptive evolution and affect patterns of natural selection within and across generations. Here, we raise two generations of a rapeseed (Brassica rapa) population derived from a cross between a rapid-cycling and an oilseed genotype in competitive and noncompetitive settings. Maternal environment had little effect on average offspring phenotypes. Maternal genotypes, however, differed in the sensitivity of almost all offspring phenotypes to the maternal environment, demonstrating genetic variation in maternal effects for traits expressed throughout ontogeny. Maternal environment did not significantly affect progeny seed production, and maternal genotypes were not variable for this trait, indicating no evidence for direct maternal effects on offspring fitness. Maternal environment influenced natural selection in the progeny generation; disruptive selection acted on seed mass among seeds matured in the noncompetitive maternal environment versus no significant selection on this trait for seeds matured in the competitive maternal environment. Although maternal effects did not directly increase fitness, they did affect evolutionary potential and selection in the progeny generation. These results suggest that diverse phenotypes of both wild and cultivated B. rapa genotypes will depend on the maternal environment in which the seeds are matured.


This article was originally published in Evolutionary Ecology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Evolutionary Ecology


Copyright © 2014, Springer International Publishing Switzerland