Gene expression correlates of facultative predation in the blow fly Chrysomya rufifacies (Diptera: Calliphoridae).
ABSTRACT: Effects of intraguild predation (IGP) on omnivores and detritivores are relatively understudied when compared to work on predator guilds. Functional genetic work in IGP is even more limited, but its application can help answer a range of questions related to ultimate and proximate causes of this behavior. Here, we integrate behavioral assays and transcriptomic analysis of facultative predation in a blow fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) to evaluate the prevalence, effect, and correlated gene expression of facultative predation by the invasive species Chrysomya rufifacies. Field work observing donated human cadavers indicated facultative predation by C. rufifacies on the native blow fly Cochliomyia macellaria was rare under undisturbed conditions, owing in part to spatial segregation between species. Laboratory assays under conditions of starvation showed predation had a direct fitness benefit (i.e., survival) to the predator. As a genome is not available for C. rufifacies, a de novo transcriptome was developed and annotated using sequence similarity to Drosophila melanogaster. Under a variety of assembly parameters, several genes were identified as being differentially expressed between predators and nonpredators of this species, including genes involved in cell-to-cell signaling, osmotic regulation, starvation responses, and dopamine regulation. Results of this work were integrated to develop a model of the processes and genetic regulation controlling facultative predation.
Project description:To properly define ecoregions, specific criteria such as geology, climate, or species composition (e.g., the presence of endemic species) must be taken into account to understand distribution patterns and resolve ecological biogeography questions. Since the studies on insects in Baja California are scarce, and no fine-scale ecoregions based on the region's entomofauna is available, this study was designed to test whether the ecoregions based on vegetation can be used for insects, such as Calliphoridae. Nine collecting sites distributed along five ecoregions were selected, between latitudes 29.6° and 32.0°N. In each site, three baited traps were used to collect blow flies from August 2017 to June 2019 during summer, winter, and spring. A total of 30,307 individuals of blow flies distributed in six genera and 13 species were collected. The most abundant species were Cochliomyia macellaria (Fabricius), Phormia regina (Meigen), and Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart). The composition of the Calliphoridae community was different between the localities and three general groups have been distinguished, based on the species composition similarity (ANOSIM) results: Gulf-Desert, Mountains, and Pacific-Center. The vegetation-based ecoregions only reflect the blow fly species' distributions to a certain extent, meaning that care must be taken when undertaking ecological biogeographical studies using regionalization based on organisms other than the focal taxa because vegetation does not always reflect fauna species composition.
Project description:Predation risk is a strong selective force shaping prey morphology, life history and behavior. Anti-predator behaviors may be innate, learned or both but little is known about the transgenerational behavioral effects of maternally experienced predation risk. We examined intraguild predation (IGP) risk-induced maternal effects on offspring anti-predator behavior, including learning, in the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis. We exposed predatory mite mothers during egg production to presence or absence of the IG predator Amblyseius andersoni and assessed whether maternal stress affects the anti-predator behavior, including larval learning ability, of their offspring as protonymphs. Protonymphs emerging from stressed or unstressed mothers, and having experienced IGP risk as larvae or not, were subjected to choice situations with and without IG predator traces. Predator-experienced protonymphs from stressed mothers were the least active and acted the boldest in site choice towards predator cues. We argue that the attenuated response of the protonymphs to predator traces alone represents optimized risk management because no immediate risk existed. Such behavioral adjustment could reduce the inherent fitness costs of anti-predator behaviors. Overall, our study suggests that P. persimilis mothers experiencing IGP risk may prime their offspring to behave more optimally in IGP environments.
Project description:The production of male and female offspring is often determined by the presence of specific sex chromosomes which control sex-specific expression, and sex chromosomes evolve through reduced recombination and specialized gene content. Here we present the genomes of Chrysomya rufifacies, a monogenic blow fly (females produce female or male offspring, exclusively) by separately sequencing and assembling each type of female and the male. The genomes (>?25X coverage) do not appear to have any sex-linked Muller F elements (typical for many Diptera) and exhibit little differentiation between groups supporting the morphological assessments of C. rufifacies homomorphic chromosomes. Males in this species are associated with a unimodal coverage distribution while females exhibit bimodal coverage distributions, suggesting a potential difference in genomic architecture. The presence of the individual-sex draft genomes herein provides new clues regarding the origination and evolution of the diverse sex-determining mechanisms observed within Diptera. Additional genomic analysis of sex chromosomes and sex-determining genes of other blow flies will allow a refined evolutionary understanding of how flies with a typical X/Y heterogametic amphogeny (male and female offspring in similar ratios) sex determination systems evolved into one with a dominant factor that results in single sex progeny in a chromosomally monomorphic system.
Project description:Compensatory or catch-up growth following growth impairment caused by transient environmental stress, due to adverse abiotic factors or food, is widespread in animals. Such growth strategies commonly balance retarded development and reduced growth. They depend on the type of stressor but are unknown for predation risk, a prime selective force shaping life history. Anti-predator behaviours by immature prey typically come at the cost of reduced growth rates with potential negative consequences on age and size at maturity. Here, we investigated the hypothesis that transient intraguild predation (IGP) risk induces compensatory or catch-up growth in the plant-inhabiting predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis. Immature P. persimilis were exposed in the larval stage to no, low or high IGP risk, and kept under benign conditions in the next developmental stage, the protonymph. High but not low IGP risk prolonged development of P. persimilis larvae, which was compensated in the protonymphal stage by increased foraging activity and accelerated development, resulting in optimal age and size at maturity. Our study provides the first experimental evidence that prey may balance developmental costs accruing from anti-predator behaviour by compensatory growth.
Project description:Amblyseius swirskii, native to the east and southeast Mediterranean region, is a successful biological control agent of whiteflies. In this study, we investigated intraguild predations (IGP) between each stage of A. swirskii and each stage of two Phytoseiid species that occur in China, Amblyseius orientalis and Neoseiulus californicus. When there was no whitefly egg provided as the extraguild prey, IGP between A. swirskii and A. orientalis, and between A. swirskii and N. californicus, was observed in 10 and 20 out of 35 combinations, respectively. When IGP was observed, A. swirskii was the intraguild predator in 70% and 65% cases of A. orientalis and N. californicus predation, respectively. These results suggest that A. swirskii is a more aggressive intraguild predator compared to either A. orientalis or N. californicus. When whitefly eggs were provided as the extraguild prey, IGP between A. swirskii and N. californicus decreased greatly, but no significant decrease of IGP was observed between A. swirskii and A. orientalis. Amblyseius swirskii was able to complete development on both heterospecific predatory mites, and both heterospecific predatory mites completed their development on A. swirskii. Possible impacts that A. swirskii may have on local predatory mite populations in China are discussed.
Project description:Blow flies are worldwide the most important insects from a forensic point of view. In Thailand, aside from the two most common species, Chrysomya megacephala (F.) and Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart), Chrysomya chani Kurahashi was also found to be of forensic importance. We present a case of a human female cadaver in its bloated stage of decomposition, discovered at Pachangnoi Subdistrict, northern Thailand. Entomological sampling during the autopsy displayed an assemblage of numerous dipteran larvae. Macroscopic observations showed the coexistence of third instar larvae of the three blow flies C. megacephala, Chrysomya villeneuvi Patton, an unknown blow fly species and one muscid, Hydrotaea sp. The minimum post-mortem interval was estimated to be six days, based on the developmental rate of C. megacephala. The ID of the unknown larva, which is the focus of this report, was revealed later as C. chani by DNA sequencing, using a 1205 bp of cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI). The occurrence of C. chani on a human body revealed the need to analyse and describe the morphology of its immature stage, to enable forensic entomologists to identify this fly species in future cases. The morphological examination of the third instar was performed, revealing peculiar characteristics: protuberant tubercles encircling abdominal segments; 9-11 lobes on the anterior spiracle; six prominent pairs of tubercles along the peripheral rim of the eighth abdominal segment; a heavily sclerotized complete peritreme of the posterior spiracles. A key to differentiate the third instar of blow flies of forensic importance in Thailand is provided.
Project description:Understanding the conditions that facilitate top predator effects upon mesopredators and prey is critical for predicting where these effects will be significant. Intraguild predation (IGP) and the ecology of fear are hypotheses used to describe the effects of top predators upon mesopredators and prey species, but make different assumptions about organismal space use. The IGP hypothesis predicts that mesopredator resource acquisition and risk are positively correlated, creating a fitness deficit. But if shared prey also avoid a top predator, then mesopredators may not have to choose between risk and reward. Prey life history may be a critical predictor of how shared prey respond to predation and may mediate mesopredator suppression. We used hierarchical models of species distribution and abundance to test expectations of IGP using two separate triangular relationships between a large carnivore, smaller intraguild carnivore, and shared mammalian prey with different life histories. Following IGP, we expected that a larger carnivore would suppress a smaller carnivore if the shared prey species did not spatially avoid the large carnivore at broad scales. If prey were fearful over broad scales, we expected less evidence of mesopredator suppression. We tested these theoretical hypotheses using remote camera detections across a large spatial extent. Lagomorphs did not appear to avoid coyotes, and fox detection probability was lower as coyote abundance increased. In contrast, white-tailed deer appeared to avoid areas of increased wolf use, and coyote detection probability was not reduced at sites where wolves occurred. These findings suggest that mesopredator suppression by larger carnivores may depend upon the behavior of shared prey, specifically the spatial scale at which they perceive risk. We further discuss how extrinsic environmental factors may contribute to mesopredator suppression.
Project description:Intraguild predation (IGP) is a widespread interaction combining predation and competition. We investigated a unique IGP example among predacious fungus Zoophagus sp. and two rotifers, the predacious Cephalodella gibba and the common prey Lecane inermis. We checked the influence of the fungus on its competitor C. gibba and their joint influence on shared prey L. inermis, and the impact of the competitive predator on the growth of predacious fungus. The experiment on grown mycelium showed that Zoophagus strongly, negatively influences the growth of C. gibba (intermediate consumer) whose number did not increase throughout the experiment. The intermediate consumer was also trapped by Zoophagus and become extinct when it was its only prey, whereas in the absence of the fungus and with unlimited access to prey, its number grew quickly. As only few C. gibba were trapped by fungi when common preys were present, competition for food seems to have stronger effect on intermediate consumer population than predation. The experiment with conidia of the fungus showed that intermediate consumer significantly limits the growth of Zoophagus by reducing the number of available prey. It was observed that although the fungus can trap C. gibba, the latter does not support its growth. Trapping the intermediate consumer might serve to eliminate a competitor rather than to find a source of food. The chances of survival for L. inermis under the pressure of the two competing predators are scarce. It is the first example of IGP involving representatives of two kingdoms: Fungi and Animalia.
Project description:Interspecific competition may occur when resources are limited, and is often most intense between animals in the same ecological guild. Intraguild predation (IGP) is a distinctive form of interference competition, where a dominant predator selectively kills subordinate rivals to gain increased access to resources. However, before IGP can be identified, organisms must be confirmed as members of the same guild and occur together in space and time. The lesser hairy-footed dunnart (Sminthopsis youngsoni, Dasyuridae) is a generalist marsupial insectivore in arid Australia, but consumes wolf spiders (Lycosa spp., Lycosidae) disproportionately often relative to their availability. Here, we test the hypothesis that this disproportionate predation is a product of frequent encounter rates between the interactants due to high overlap in their diets and use of space and time. Diet and prey availability were determined using direct observations and invertebrate pitfall trapping, microhabitat use by tracking individuals of both species-groups, and temporal activity using spotlighting and camera traps. Major overlap (greater than 75% similarity) was found in diet and temporal activity, and weaker overlap in microhabitat use. Taken together, these findings suggest reasonable potential, for the first time, for competition and intraguild predation to occur between taxa as disparate as marsupials and spiders.
Project description:Understanding what maintains species and perpetuates their coexistence in a network of feeding relationships (the food web) is of great importance for biodiversity conservation. A food web can be viewed as consisting of a number of simple subunits called trophic modules. Intraguild predation (IGP), in which a prey and its predator compete for the same resource, is one of the best-studied trophic modules. According to theory, there are two ways to yield a large persistent system from such modules: (i) to use persistent subunits as building blocks or (ii) to arrange the subunits in a way that externally supports the nonpersistent subunits. Here, I show that the complex food web of the Caribbean marine ecosystem is constructed in both ways. I show that IGP modules, which convey internal persistence because of the fact that prey are superior competitors for the resources, are overrepresented in the Caribbean ecosystem. The other modules, consisting of competitively inferior prey, are not persistent in isolation. However, competitively inferior prey in these modules tend to receive more advantage from extra-module interactions, which allows persistence of the IGP module. In addition, those exterior interactions tend to be provided by intrinsically persistent IGP modules to prevent cascading extinction of interacting IGP modules. The food web can be viewed as a set of interacting modules, nonrandomly arranged to enhance the maintenance of biodiversity.