Diet-Induced Plasticity of Linear Static Allometry Is Not So Simple for Grasshoppers: Genotype–Environment Interaction in Ontogeny Is Masked by Convergent Growth

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Integrative and Comparative Biology





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Grasshoppers, Melanoplus sanguinipes (Orthoptera: Acrididae), develop larger head width (HW) and shorter leg length, relative to body size, when fed low nutrient, lignin-rich grasses compared to sibs fed a diet of high nutrient grasses. To elucidate how underlying genetic variation and plasticity of growth generate plasticity of this linear static allometry within coarse-grained environments, I measured head and leg size of three nymphal instars and adult grasshoppers raised on either a low or high nutrient diet within a half-sib quantitative genetic experiment. Doubly-multivariate repeated measures multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) of head, mandible, and hind leg size and their rate of growth (mm/period) and growth period (days) through ontogeny were used to analyze how the ontogeny of diet-induced plasticity for these variables and additive genetic variation for plasticity (genotype × environment interaction [G×E]) contribute to plasticity in functional linear static allometry. Genetic variation for diet-induced plasticity (G×E) of head and leg size varied through ontogeny, as did genetic variation for plasticity of growth in third and fourth instar nymphs. Despite extensive genetic variation in plasticity of HW and leg length in fourth instar nymphs, the static allometry between head and leg was stable within each diet because the patterns of G×E were similar for HW, leg length and their coordinated growth. Nutrient sensitive plasticity in growth shifted the intercept but not the slope of static allometry, a result consistent with one outcome of a graphical model of the relationships between G× E and plasticity of within environment static allometry. In addition, G×E of fourth instar head and leg size was reduced in adults by negatively size-dependent, convergent growth in the last period of ontogeny. Consequently, the bivariate reaction norms of head and leg size for adults exhibited no G×E and, again, plasticity in the intercept but not in the slope of static allometry. The ontogeny of seemingly simple diet-induced linear static allometry between functional body parts in grasshoppers arises from a complex combination of differing patterns of nutrient-sensitive growth, duration of growth, convergent growth, and G×E, all relevant to understanding the development and evolution of functional allometry in hemimetabolous insects.


S11 allometry; Scaling and ontogeny of form





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