Developmental phenotypes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and related yeasts include responses such as filamentous growth, sporulation, and the formation of biofilms and complex colonies. These developmental phenotypes are regulated by evolutionarily conserved, nutrient-responsive signaling networks. The signaling mechanisms that control development in yeast are highly pleiotropic – all of the known pathways contribute to the regulation of multiple developmental outcomes. This degree of pleiotropy implies that perturbations of these signaling pathways, whether genetic, biochemical or environmentally induced, can manifest in multiple (and sometimes unexpected) ways. We summarize the current state of knowledge of developmental pleiotropy in yeast and discuss its implications for understanding functional relationships.
Keywords: pleiotropy, gene networks, tradeoffs, developmental switches