Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Genetic control of environmentally induced changes in Linum


Varieties of flax in which heritable changes can be induced by growing the plants in different environments are called plastic varieties. Large differences in plant weight and in amount of nuclear DNA can be induced in them. Other varieties are non-plastic either because they are genetically different or because their ancestral environments have stabilised them, or for both reasons. Crosses and backcrosses made between a plastic flax variety (Pl) and a non-plastic linseed variety (R) were tested for plasticity by determining whether changes in amount of nuclear DNA are induced in them when grown in the specific inducing environments of nitrogen and phosphorus. Pl was found to contain a nuclear factor and a cytoplasmic factor both of which must be present for the plastic character to appear. R contains neither of these factors but it has sites, in common with Pl, at which changes in amount of nuclear DNA occur when the Pl nuclear and cytoplasmic factors are introduced. These genetic elements can be formally separated into regulator and structural genes. A varietal DNA difference between Pl and R of about 2·8 per cent, does not show a consistent pattern of inheritance in the different types of crosses, either because of the inducing treatments or because of other interactions between the genotypes.


  1. Brink, R A. 1960. Paramutation and chromosome organisation. Quart Rev Biol, 35, 120–137.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Durrant, A. 1962a. The environmental induction of heritable change in Linum. Heredity, 17, 27–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Durrant, A. 1962b. Induction, reversion and epitrophism of flax genotrophs. Nature, 204, 1302–1304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Durrant, A. 1971. Induction and growth of flax genotrophs. Heredity, 27, 277–298.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Durrant, A. 1972. Studies on reversion of induced plant weight changes in flax by out-crossing. Heredity (in press).

  6. Durrant, A, and Jones, T W A. 1971. Reversion of induced changes in amount of nuclear DNA in Linum. Heredity, 27, 431–439.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Durrant, A, and Nicholas, D B. 1970. An unstable gene in flax. Heredity, 25, 513–527.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Evans, G M. 1968. Nuclear changes in flax. Heredity, 23, 25–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Evans, G M, Durrant, A, and Rees, H. 1966. Associated nuclear changes in the induction of flax genotrophs. Nature, 212, 697–699.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Jacob, F, and Monod, J. 1961. Genetic regulating mechanisms in the synthesis of proteins. J Mol Biol, 3, 318–356.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. McLellan, J C, and Durrant, A. 1972. Instability of Hh heterozygotes in flax genotrophs. Heredity (in press).

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Durrant, A., Timmis, J. Genetic control of environmentally induced changes in Linum. Heredity 30, 369–379 (1973).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links