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Host environment and local genetic adaptation determine phenotype in parasitic Rhinanthus angustifolius

  • Anneli Jonstrup
  • Mikael Hedrén
  • Stefan Andersson
Publishing year: 2016
Language: English
Pages: 89-103
Publication/Series: Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume: 180
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Plants have a remarkable capacity to adapt to local environmental conditions, which can result in ecotypic differentiation. Patterns of differentiation can, however, also be influenced by the extensive phenotypic plasticity exhibited by many plant species. In this study, we evaluated the distinctness of two putative ecotypes of the parasitic herb Rhinanthus angustifolius. We compared population means of characters commonly used to distinguish between the putative ecotypes after growing individuals of R. angustifolius with a variety of host species in a common garden. Resulting data were also pooled over environments to study how phenotypic plasticity affects the distinctness of ecotypes and individual populations. Except for node number, most of the characters were plastic. The pattern of differentiation was consistent with the existence of two, or possibly three, habitat-related groups of populations; however, we observed considerable overlap in flowering time and morphological characters after pooling data across host environments. The results show that the complex phenological and morphological variation in R. angustifolius is caused by a combination of genetically determined ecotypic differentiation and plastic responses to the host environment and other factors.


  • Botany
  • common garden
  • ecotype
  • hemiparasite
  • local adaptation
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • Rhinanthus


  • ISSN: 1095-8339
Stefan Andersson
E-mail: stefan [dot] andersson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 44 08



Research group

Plant Biology



Doctoral students and Postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

Gróa Valgerdur Ingimudardóttir

Downloads & links

CV (pdf; 19 kb)