Phenotypic plasticity enables organisms to respond to changing environments through activation of different phenotypes or alternative developmental courses; but the cenorhabditis elegans can go through two different developmental trajectories depending genetic markers on the conditions of the environment.
In favorable environments, they proceed from L1, L2, L3, and L4 larvae stages to reproductive adults. When the animal senses harsh stimuli; including high temperature, low food, and high amounts of pheromone, L1 larvae can enter an alternative pre-dauer stage, L2d; and commit to become a dauer if the unfavorable conditions persist. The dauer entry decision is a whole animal decision that involves remodeling of individual tissues to acquire dauer-specific physiology and behaviors.
Some genetic markers
However, our knowledge regarding how the dauer entry decision is made; and how the decision is coordinately executing across different tissues is still limiting. First, it is difficult to identifying L2d; the stage when environmental signals are integrating and the dauer-commitment decision is made; because of its lack of distinct features.
Additionally, it can be labor-intensive to look for nondauer features in dauers; that fail to coordinately remodel all of their tissues. SDS sensitivity and fluorescent beads are two available tools for dauer hypodermis; and pharynx selection; but not for other tissues. molecular markers that can track the decision in different tissues and are predictive of the decision.
Study verifying that the markers could also be using to drive gene expression during the dauer entry decision; and to parse incomplete dauer development phenotypes. Our findings provide useful molecular tools for studying phenotypic plasticity during a whole animal decision.
But the hypodermis-expressing collagen gene family as one of our dauer marker candidates; because they fit our criteria of being expressing at high levels and in a large tissue. In addition, they offering the opportunity to learn more about the role of hypodermal daf-9 expression in the developmental decision. By this demonstrating that these markers are useful for tracking the dauer-committment decision; driving gene expression during dauer committment, and for teasing apart partial dauer phenotypes tissue by tissue.