Maximizing growth rate at low temperatures: RNA:DNA allocation strategies and life history traits of Arctic and temperate Daphnia

G.J. Van Geest, R. Sachse, Michaela Brehm, E. Van Donk, D.O. Hessen

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Many short-lived or univoltine organisms at high latitudes and altitudes face the challenge to complete their life-cycle within a brief growing season. This means that they need to maintain a high growth rate at low temperatures, and one way of doing this is to allocate limiting resources like phosphorus to RNA in order to maximize protein synthesis. We here explore the allocations of phosphorus to RNA relative to DNA, and the potential bearings on growth rate and life history traits of polyploid (high-Arctic) and diploid (temperate) Daphnia pulex. The polyploid clone matured earlier at low temperature (8°C) but later than the diploid clone at high temperature (18°C). Juveniles of Arctic Daphnia had both higher specific levels of RNA and higher growth rates at low temperature compared with the temperate clone of Daphnia. We hypothesize that Arctic Daphnia may overcome growth constraints posed by low temperature and polyploidy by increasing their allocation of resources to RNA. The prevalence of polyploidy in Arctic populations strongly suggests that the potential drawbacks of polyploidy are counteracted by an increased allocation of resources to RNA to keep a high rate of protein synthesis even under low temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1255-1262
JournalPolar Biology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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