During times of rapid environmental change, survival of most vertebrate populations depends on their phenomic plasticity. Although differential gene-expression and post-transcriptional processes of the host genome receive focus as the main molecular mechanisms, growing evidence points to the gut microbiota as a key driver defining hosts’ phenotypes. We propose that the plasticity of the gut microbiota might be an essential factor determining phenomic plasticity of vertebrates, and that it might play a pivotal role when vertebrates acclimate and adapt to fast environmental variation. We contemplate some key questions and suggest methodological approaches and experimental designs that can be used to evaluate whether gut microorganisms provide a boost of plasticity to vertebrates’ phenomes, thereby increasing their acclimation and adaptation capacity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics