Polyphagy and diversification in tussock moths: Support for the oscillation hypothesis from extreme generalists.
ABSTRACT: Theory on plasticity driving speciation, as applied to insect-plant interactions (the oscillation hypothesis), predicts more species in clades with higher diversity of host use, all else being equal. Previous support comes mainly from specialized herbivores such as butterflies, and plasticity theory suggests that there may be an upper host range limit where host diversity no longer promotes diversification. The tussock moths (Erebidae: Lymantriinae) are known for extreme levels of polyphagy. We demonstrate that this system is also very different from butterflies in terms of phylogenetic signal for polyphagy and for use of specific host orders. Yet we found support for the generality of the oscillation hypothesis, in that clades with higher diversity of host use were found to contain more species. These clades also consistently contained the most polyphagous single species. Comparing host use in Lymantriinae with related taxa shows that the taxon indeed stands out in terms of the frequency of polyphagous species. Comparative evidence suggests that this is most probably due to its nonfeeding adults, with polyphagy being part of a resulting life history syndrome. Our results indicate that even high levels of plasticity can drive diversification, at least when the levels oscillate over time.
Project description:It has been suggested that phenotypic plasticity is a major factor in the diversification of life, and that variation in host range in phytophagous insects is a good model for investigating this claim. We explore the use of angiosperm plants as hosts for nymphalid butterflies, and in particular the evidence for past oscillations in host range and how they are linked to host shifts and to diversification. At the level of orders of plants, a relatively simple pattern of host use and host shifts emerges, despite the 100 million years of history of the family Nymphalidae. We review the evidence that these host shifts and the accompanying diversifications were associated with transient polyphagous stages, as suggested by the "oscillation hypothesis." In addition, we investigate all currently polyphagous nymphalid species and demonstrate that the state of polyphagy is rare, has a weak phylogenetic signal, and a very apical distribution in the phylogeny; we argue that these are signs of its transient nature. We contrast our results with data from the bark beetles Dendroctonus, in which a more specialized host use is instead the apical state. We conclude that plasticity in host use is likely to have contributed to diversification in nymphalid butterflies.
Project description:Emergence of polyphagous herbivorous insects entails significant adaptation to recognize, detoxify and digest a variety of host-plants. Despite of its biological and practical importance - since insects eat 20% of crops - no exhaustive analysis of gene repertoires required for adaptations in generalist insect herbivores has previously been performed. The noctuid moth Spodoptera frugiperda ranks as one of the world's worst agricultural pests. This insect is polyphagous while the majority of other lepidopteran herbivores are specialist. It consists of two morphologically indistinguishable strains ("C" and "R") that have different host plant ranges. To describe the evolutionary mechanisms that both enable the emergence of polyphagous herbivory and lead to the shift in the host preference, we analyzed whole genome sequences from laboratory and natural populations of both strains. We observed huge expansions of genes associated with chemosensation and detoxification compared with specialist Lepidoptera. These expansions are largely due to tandem duplication, a possible adaptation mechanism enabling polyphagy. Individuals from natural C and R populations show significant genomic differentiation. We found signatures of positive selection in genes involved in chemoreception, detoxification and digestion, and copy number variation in the two latter gene families, suggesting an adaptive role for structural variation.
Project description:The "oscillation hypothesis" has been proposed as a general explanation for the exceptional diversification of herbivorous insect species. The hypothesis states that speciation rates are elevated through repeated correlated changes--oscillations--in degree of host plant specificity and geographic range. The aim of this study is to test one of the predictions from the oscillation hypothesis: a positive correlation between diet breadth (number of host plants used) and geographic range size, using the globally distributed butterfly subfamily Nymphalinae. Data on diet breadth and global geographic range were collected for 182 Nymphalinae butterflies species and the size of the geographic range was measured using a GIS. We tested both diet breadth and geographic range size for phylogenetic signal to see if species are independent of each other with respect to these characters. As this test gave inconclusive results, data was analysed both using cross-species comparisons and taking phylogeny into account using generalised estimating equations as applied in the APE package in R. Irrespective of which method was used, we found a significant positive correlation between diet breadth and geographic range size. These results are consistent for two different measures of diet breadth and removal of outliers. We conclude that the global range sizes of Nymphalinae butterflies are correlated to diet breadth. That is, butterflies that feed on a large number of host plants tend to have larger geographic ranges than do butterflies that feed on fewer plants. These results lend support for an important step in the oscillation hypothesis of plant-driven diversification, in that it can provide the necessary fuel for future population fragmentation and speciation.
Project description:Invasive arthropods pose unique management challenges in various environments, the first of which is correct identification. This apparently mundane task is particularly difficult if multiple species are morphologically indistinguishable but accurate identification can be determined with DNA barcoding provided an adequate reference set is available. Scirtothrips dorsalis is a highly polyphagous plant pest with a rapidly expanding global distribution and this species, as currently recognized, may be comprised of cryptic species. Here we report the development of a comprehensive DNA barcode library for S. dorsalis and seven nuclear markers via next-generation sequencing for identification use within the complex. We also report the delimitation of nine cryptic species and two morphologically distinguishable species comprising the S. dorsalis species complex using histogram analysis of DNA barcodes, Bayesian phylogenetics, and the multi-species coalescent. One member of the complex, here designated the South Asia 1 cryptic species, is highly invasive, polyphagous, and likely the species implicated in tospovirus transmission. Two other species, South Asia 2, and East Asia 1 are also highly polyphagous and appear to be at an earlier stage of global invasion. The remaining members of the complex are regionally endemic, varying in their pest status and degree of polyphagy. In addition to patterns of invasion and endemism, our results provide a framework both for identifying members of the complex based on their DNA barcode, and for future species delimiting efforts.
Project description:The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a pest of many agricultural and ornamental crops worldwide and particularly in Africa. It is a complex of cryptic species, which is extremely polyphagous with hundreds of host plants identified around the world. Previous surveys in western Africa indicated the presence of two biotypes of the invasive MED species (MED-Q1 and MED-Q3) living in sympatry with the African species SSA and ASL. This situation constitutes one of the rare cases of local coexistence of various genetic entities within the B. tabaci complex. In order to study the dynamics of the distribution and abundance of genetic entities within this community and to identify potential factors that could contribute to coexistence, we sampled B. tabaci populations in Burkina Faso in 2015 and 2016 on various plants, and also their parasitoids. All four genetic entities were still recorded, indicating no exclusion of local species by the MED species. While B. tabaci individuals were found on 55 plant species belonging to eighteen (18) families showing the high polyphagy of this pest, some species/biotypes exhibited higher specificity. Two parasitoid species (Eretmocerus mundus and Encarsia vandrieschei) were also recorded with E. mundus being predominant in most localities and on most plants. Our data indicated that whitefly abundance, diversity, and rate of parasitism varied according to areas, plants, and years, but that parasitism rate was globally highly correlated with whitefly abundance suggesting density dependence. Our results also suggest dynamic variation in the local diversity of B. tabaci species/biotypes from 1 year to the other, specifically with MED-Q1 and ASL species. This work provides relevant information on the nature of plant-B. tabaci-parasitoid interactions in West Africa and identifies that coexistence might be stabilized by niche differentiation for some genetic entities. However, MED-Q1 and ASL show extensive niche overlap, which could ultimately lead to competitive exclusion.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The glasshouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum, is a damaging crop pest and an invasive generalist capable of feeding on a broad range of host plants. As such this species has evolved mechanisms to circumvent the wide spectrum of anti-herbivore allelochemicals produced by its host range. T. vaporariorum has also demonstrated a remarkable ability to evolve resistance to many of the synthetic insecticides used for control. RESULTS:To gain insight into the molecular mechanisms that underpin the polyphagy of T. vaporariorum and its resistance to natural and synthetic xenobiotics, we sequenced and assembled a reference genome for this species. Curation of genes putatively involved in the detoxification of natural and synthetic xenobiotics revealed a marked reduction in specific gene families between this species and another generalist whitefly, Bemisia tabaci. Transcriptome profiling of T. vaporariorum upon transfer to a range of different host plants revealed profound differences in the transcriptional response to more or less challenging hosts. Large scale changes in gene expression (>?20% of genes) were observed during adaptation to challenging hosts with a range of genes involved in gene regulation, signalling, and detoxification differentially expressed. Remarkably, these changes in gene expression were associated with significant shifts in the tolerance of host-adapted T. vaporariorum lines to natural and synthetic insecticides. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings provide further insights into the ability of polyphagous insects to extensively reprogram gene expression during host adaptation and illustrate the potential implications of this on their sensitivity to synthetic insecticides.
Project description:The Insect taste system plays a central role in feeding behaviours and co-evolution of insect-host interactions. Gustatory receptors form the interface between the insect taste system and the environment. From genome and transcriptome sequencing we identified 197 novel gustatory receptor (GR) genes from the polyphagous pest Helicoverpa armigera. These GRs include a significantly expanded bitter receptor family (180 GRs) that could be further divided into three categories based on polypeptide lengths, gene structure and amino acid sequence. Type 1 includes 29 bitter Gr genes that possess introns. Type 2 includes 13 long intronless bitter Gr genes, while Type 3 comprises 131 short intronless bitter Gr genes. Calcium imaging analysis demonstrated that three Type 3 GRs (HarmGR35, HarmGR50 and HarmGR195) can be activated by a crude extract of cotton leaves. HarmGR195, a GR specifically and selectively expressed in adult tarsi, showed a specific response to proline, an amino acid widely present in plant tissues. We hypothesise that the expansion in the H. armigera GR family may be functionally tied to its polyphagous behavior. Understanding the molecular basis of polyphagy may provide opportunities for the development of new environmentally friendly pest control strategies.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The diversification of organisms with a parasitic lifestyle is often tightly linked to the evolution of their host associations. If a tight host association exists, closely related species tend to attack closely related hosts; host associations are less stable if associations are determined by more plastic traits like parasitoid searching and oviposition behaviour. The pupal-parasitoids of the genus Ichneumon attack a variety of macrolepidopteran hosts. They are either monophagous or polyphagous, and therefore offer a promissing system to investigate the evolution of host associations. Ichneumon was previously divided into two groups based on general body shape; however, a stout shape has been suggested as an adaptation to buried host pupation sites, and might thus not represent a reliable phylogenetic character. RESULTS: We here reconstruct the first molecular phylogeny of the genus Ichneumon using two mitochondrial (CO1 and NADH1) and one nuclear marker (28S). The resulting phylogeny only supports monophyly of Ichneumon when Ichneumon lugens Gravenhorst, 1829 (formerly in Chasmias, stat. rev.) and Ichneumon deliratorius Linnaeus, 1758 (formerly Coelichneumon) are included. Neither parasitoid species that attack hosts belonging to one family nor those attacking butterflies (Rhopalocera) form monophyletic clades. Ancestral state reconstructions suggest multiple transitions between searching for hosts above versus below ground and between a stout versus elongated body shape. A model assuming correlated evolution between the two characters was preferred over independent evolution of host-searching niche and body shape. CONCLUSIONS: Host relations, both in terms of phylogeny and ecology, evolved at a high pace in the genus Ichneumon. Numerous switches between hosts of different lepidopteran families have occurred, a pattern that seems to be the rule among idiobiont parasitoids. A stout body and antennal shape in the parasitoid female is confirmed as an ecological adaptation to host pupation sites below ground and has evolved convergently several times. Morphological characters that might be involved in adaptation to hosts should be avoided as diagnostic characters for phylogeny and classification, as they can be expected to show high levels of homoplasy.
Project description:An ovipositing insect experiences many sensory challenges during her search for a suitable host plant. These sensory challenges become exceedingly pronounced when host range increases, as larger varieties of sensory inputs have to be perceived and processed in the brain. Neural capacities can be exceeded upon information overload, inflicting costs on oviposition accuracy. One presumed generalist strategy to diminish information overload is the acquisition of a focused search during its lifetime based on experiences within the current environment, a strategy opposed to a more genetically determined focus expected to be seen in relative specialists. We hypothesized that a broader host range is positively correlated with mushroom body (MB) plasticity, a brain structure related to learning and memory. To test this hypothesis, butterflies with diverging host ranges (Polygonia c-album, Aglais io and Aglais urticae) were subjected to differential environmental complexities for oviposition, after which ontogenetic MB calyx volume differences were compared among species. We found that the relative generalist species exhibited remarkable plasticity in ontogenetic MB volumes; MB growth was differentially stimulated based on the complexity of the experienced environment. For relative specialists, MB volume was more canalized. All in all, this study strongly suggests an impact of host range on brain plasticity in Nymphalid butterflies.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Although most insect species are specialized on one or few groups of plants, there are phytophagous insects that seem to use virtually any kind of plant as food. Understanding the nature of this ability to feed on a wide repertoire of plants is crucial for the control of pest species and for the elucidation of the macroevolutionary mechanisms of speciation and diversification of insect herbivores. Here we studied Vanessa cardui, the species with the widest diet breadth among butterflies and a potential insect pest, by comparing tissue-specific transcriptomes from caterpillars that were reared on different host plants. We tested whether the similarities of gene-expression response reflect the evolutionary history of adaptation to these plants in the Vanessa and related genera, against the null hypothesis of transcriptional profiles reflecting plant phylogenetic relatedness. RESULT:Using both unsupervised and supervised methods of data analysis, we found that the tissue-specific patterns of caterpillar gene expression are better explained by the evolutionary history of adaptation of the insects to the plants than by plant phylogeny. CONCLUSION:Our findings suggest that V. cardui may use two sets of expressed genes to achieve polyphagy, one associated with the ancestral capability to consume Rosids and Asterids, and another allowing the caterpillar to incorporate a wide range of novel host-plants.