|Herzog, QT; Rabus, M; Wolfschoon Ribeiro, B; Laforsch, C: Inducible Defenses with a "Twist": Daphnia barbata Abandons Bilateral Symmetry in Response to an Ancient Predator, PLoS ONE, 11(2), 1-6 (2016), online: 2016-02-17, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148556|
Predation is one of the most important drivers of natural selection. In consequence a huge variety of anti-predator defenses have evolved in prey species. Under unpredictable and temporally variable predation pressure, the evolution of phenotypically plastic defensive traits is favored. These “inducible defenses”, range from changes in behavior, life history, physiology to morphology and can be found in almost all taxa from bacteria to vertebrates. An important group of model organisms in ecological, evolutionary and environmental research, water fleas of the genus Daphnia (Crustacea: Cladocera), are well known for their ability to respond to predators with an enormous variety of inducible morphological defenses. Here we report on the “twist”, a body torsion, as a so far unrecognized inducible morphological defense in Daphnia, expressed by Daphnia barbata exposed to the predatory tadpole shrimp Triops cancriformis. This defense is realized by a twisted carapace with the helmet and the tail spine deviating from the body axis into opposing directions, resulting in a complete abolishment of bilateral symmetry. The twisted morphotype should considerably interfere with the feeding apparatus of the predator, contributing to the effectiveness of the array of defensive traits in D. barbata. As such this study does not only describe a completely novel inducible defense in the genus Daphnia but also presents the first report of a free living Bilateria to flexibly respond to predation risk by abandoning bilateral symmetry.
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