Apr 9, 2020

Colonizations cause host shifts, diversification of preferences and expansion of butterfly diet breadth

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Michael S Singer, c. parmesan


Dynamics of herbivorous insect diet breadth are important in generation of novel pests, biological control of weeds and as indicators of global change impacts. But what forces and events drive these dynamics? Here we present evidence for a novel scenario: that habitat colonizations cause host shifts, which are followed by non-adaptive evolutionary expansions of diet breadth that add transitory hosts during adaptation to the principal novel host. We base our thesis on long-term study of 15 independently-evolving populations of Ediths Checkerspot butterfly, eight of which used fewer host genera in recent censuses than in the 1980s, while none used more - a significant increase in specializaton. This result does not imply a species-wide trend, since two extintion/recolonization events were followed by expansions of diet breadth. Behavioural experiments showed that these expansions were driven by within-population diversification of individual oviposition preferences. These results may explain an old puzzle: a significant negative association between population-level diet breadth and mtDNA diversity. In the 1980s, Ediths Checkerspot populations with fewer mtDNA haplotypes had broader diets, while those with higher mtDNA diversity w...Continue Reading

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High-Throughput RNA Sequencing

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