Browsing by Subject "Lepidoptera"

Sort by: Order: Results:

Now showing items 1-20 of 21
  • Rosa, Elena; Woestmann, Luisa; Biere, Arjen; Saastamoinen, Marjo (2018)
    Host plant chemical composition critically shapes the performance of insect herbivores feeding on them. Some insects have become specialized on plant secondary metabolites, and even use them to their own advantage such as defense against predators. However, infection by plant pathogens can seriously alter the interaction between herbivores and their host plants. We tested whether the effects of the plant secondary metabolites, iridoid glycosides (IGs), on the performance and immune response of an insect herbivore are modulated by a plant pathogen. We used the IG-specialized Glanville fritillary butterfly Melitaea cinxia, its host plant Plantago lanceolata, and the naturally occurring plant pathogen, powdery mildew Podosphaera plantaginis, as model system. Pre-diapause larvae were fed on P. lanceolata host plants selected to contain either high or low IGs, in the presence or absence of powdery mildew. Larval performance was measured by growth rate, survival until diapause, and by investment in immunity. We assessed immunity after a bacterial challenge in terms of phenoloxidase (PO) activity and the expression of seven pre-selected insect immune genes (qPCR). We found that the beneficial effects of constitutive leaf IGs, that improved larval growth, were significantly reduced by mildew infection. Moreover, mildew presence downregulated one component of larval immune response (PO activity), suggesting a physiological cost of investment in immunity under suboptimal conditions. Yet, feeding on mildew-infected leaves caused an upregulation of two immune genes, lysozyme and prophenoloxidase. Our findings indicate that a plant pathogen can significantly modulate the effects of secondary metabolites on the growth of an insect herbivore. Furthermore, we show that a plant pathogen can induce contrasting effects on insect immune function. We suspect that the activation of the immune system toward a plant pathogen infection may be maladaptive, but the actual infectivity on the larvae should be tested.
  • Caterpillar Rearing Group (CRG), LepSoc Africa; Staude, Hermann; MacLean, Marion; Mecenero, Silvia; Pretorius, Rudolph J.; Oberprieler, Rolf G.; van Noort, Simon; Sharp, Allison; Sharp, Ian; Balona, Julio; Bradley, Suncana; Brink, Magriet; Morton, Andrew S.; Bodha, Magda J.; Collins, Steve C.; Grobler, Quartus; Edge, David A.; Williams, Mark C.; Sihvonen, Pasi (2020)
    We present an overview of the known host associations of larval Lepidoptera for southern Africa, based on a database of 11 628 rearings, including all Caterpillar Rearing Group (CRG) records and other published records. Rearings per Lepidoptera family show some bias in the rearing effort towards the more conspicuous families, ectophagous groups and non-detritus-feeders but in general follow species diversity. Recorded Lepidoptera host associations per host family for southern Africa are shown. Data analyses revealed the following general trends: of the 20 most reared species 13 are polyphagous; Fabaceae are the most utilised plant family with 2 122 associations, followed by Asteraceae (600), Malvaceae (564) and Anacardiaceae (476); 98.8 % of hosts are vascular plants; and of the 19 most utilised host species 18 are common trees or shrubs. We discuss possible reasons behind these trends, particularly the high utilisation of Fabaceae and the widespread use of trees and shrubs as hosts. We compare recorded host species numbers with species diversity for the 19 most recorded host families and discuss possible reasons for the low utilisation of four plant families with an exceptionally low percentage of Lepidoptera host species / plant host species diversity. All Lepidoptera families for which more than 100 rearings have been recorded (21 families) utilise one (or two in the case of Pyralidae, Nolidae and Hesperiidae) plant family exponentially more than any of the other families, with resulting histograms forming hyperbolic curves, as are typical of distributions of taxonomic assemblages in nature. We calculate an exponential factor to quantify this phenomenon and show that for all 21 Lepidoptera families one host family is utilised 6–33 times more than the average use of other host families. In this paper, the larvae and adults of 953 African, mostly South African, Lepidoptera species reared by the CRG between January 2016 and June 2019 are illustrated together with pertinent host information. 119 Lepidoptera-parasitoid associations are reported, comprising seven hymenopteran families and one dipteran family. With the current data release, larval host association records are now available for 2 826 Lepidoptera species in the southern African subregion, covering about 25 % of the described fauna.
  • Byers, Kelsey J. R. P.; Darragh, Kathy; Fernanda Garza, Sylvia; Abondano Almeida, Diana; Warren, Ian A.; Rastas, Pasi M. A.; Merrill, Richard M.; Schulz, Stefan; McMillan, W. Owen; Jiggins, Chris D. (2021)
    The degree to which loci promoting reproductive isolation cluster in the genome-that is, the genetic architecture of reproductive isolation-can influence the tempo and mode of speciation. Tight linkage between these loci can facilitate speciation in the face of gene flow. Pheromones play a role in reproductive isolation in many Lepidoptera species, and the role of endogenously produced compounds as secondary metabolites decreases the likelihood of pleiotropy associated with many barrier loci. Heliconius butterflies use male sex pheromones to both court females (aphrodisiac wing pheromones) and ward off male courtship (male-transferred antiaphrodisiac genital pheromones), and it is likely that these compounds play a role in reproductive isolation between Heliconius species. Using a set of backcross hybrids between H. melpomene and H. cydno, we investigated the genetic architecture of putative male pheromone compound production. We found a set of 40 significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) representing 33 potential pheromone compounds. QTL clustered significantly on two chromosomes, chromosome 8 for genital compounds and chromosome 20 for wing compounds, and chromosome 20 was enriched for potential pheromone biosynthesis genes. There was minimal overlap between pheromone QTL and known QTL for mate choice and color pattern. Nonetheless, we did detect linkage between a QTL for wing androconial area and optix, a color pattern locus known to play a role in reproductive isolation in these species. This tight clustering of putative pheromone loci might contribute to coincident reproductive isolating barriers, facilitating speciation despite ongoing gene flow.
  • Hällfors, Maria H.; Pöyry, Juha; Heliölä, Janne; Kohonen, Ilmari; Kuussaari, Mikko; Leinonen, Reima; Schmucki, Reto; Sihvonen, Pasi; Saastamoinen, Marjo (Blackwell Science, 2021)
    Ecology Letters 24: 1619-1632
    Species can adapt to climate change by adjusting in situ or by dispersing to new areas, and these strategies may complement or enhance each other. Here, we investigate temporal shifts in phenology and spatial shifts in northern range boundaries for 289 Lepidoptera species by using long-term data sampled over two decades. While 40% of the species neither advanced phenology nor moved northward, nearly half (45%) used one of the two strategies. The strongest positive population trends were observed for the minority of species (15%) that both advanced flight phenology and shifted their northern range boundaries northward. We show that, for boreal Lepidoptera, a combination of phenology and range shifts is the most viable strategy under a changing climate. Effectively, this may divide species into winners and losers based on their propensity to capitalize on this combination, with potentially large consequences on future community composition.
  • Wirta, Helena K.; Hebert, Paul D. N.; Kaartinen, Riikka; Prosser, Sean W.; Varkonyi, Gergely; Roslin, Tomas (2014)
  • Heikkila, Maria; Mutanen, Marko; Wahlberg, Niklas; Sihvonen, Pasi; Kaila, Lauri (2015)
    Background: Ditrysia comprise close to 99 % of all butterflies and moths. The evolutionary relationships among the ditrysian superfamilies have received considerable attention in phylogenetic studies based on DNA and transcriptomic data, but the deepest divergences remain for large parts unresolved or contradictory. To obtain complementary insight into the evolutionary history of the clade, and to test previous hypotheses on the subdivision of Ditrysia based on morphology, we examine the morphology of larvae, pupae and adult males and females of 318 taxa representing nearly all ditrysian superfamilies and families. We present the most comprehensive morphological dataset on Ditrysia to date, consisting of over 500 morphological characters. The data are analyzed alone and combined with sequence data (one mitochondrial and seven nuclear protein-coding gene regions, sequenced from 422 taxa). The full dataset consists of 473 exemplar species. Analyses are performed using maximum likelihood methods, and parsimony methods for the morphological dataset. We explore whether combining morphological data and DNA-data can stabilize taxa that are unstable in phylogenetic studies based on genetic data only. Results: Morphological characters are found phylogenetically informative in resolving apical nodes (superfamilies and families), but characters serving as evidence of relatedness of larger assemblages are few. Results include the recovery of a monophyletic Tineoidea, Sesioidea and Cossoidea, and a stable position for some unstable taxa (e.g. Epipyropidae, Cyclotornidae, Urodoidea + Schreckensteinioidea). Several such taxa, however, remain unstable even though morphological characters indicate a position in the tree (e.g. Immidae). Evidence supporting affinities between clades are suggested, e.g. a novel larval synapomorphy for Tineidae. We also propose the synonymy of Tineodidae with Alucitidae, syn. nov. Conclusions: The large morphological dataset provides information on the diversity and distribution of morphological traits in Ditrysia, and can be used in future research on the evolution of these traits, in identification keys and in identification of fossil Lepidoptera. The "backbone" of the phylogeny for Ditrysia remains largely unresolved. As previously proposed as an explanation for the scarcity of molecular signal in resolving the deeper nodes, this may be due to the rapid radiation of Ditrysia in the Cretaceous.
  • de Jong, M. A.; Saastamoinen, Marjo (2018)
    Thermal tolerance has a major effect on individual fitness and species distributions and can be determined by genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity. We investigate the effects of developmental and adult thermal conditions on cold tolerance, measured as chill coma recovery (CCR) time, during the early and late adult stage in the Glanville fritillary butterfly. We also investigate the genetic basis of cold tolerance by associating CCR variation with polymorphisms in candidate genes that have a known role in insect physiology. Our results demonstrate that a cooler developmental temperature leads to reduced cold tolerance in the early adult stage, whereas cooler conditions during the adult stage lead to increased cold tolerance. This suggests that adult acclimation, but not developmental plasticity, of adult cold tolerance is adaptive. This could be explained by the ecological conditions the Glanville fritillary experiences in the field, where temperature during early summer, but not spring, is predictive of thermal conditions during the butterfly's flight season. In addition, an amino acid polymorphism (Ala-Glu) in the gene flightin, which has a known function in insect flight and locomotion, was associated with CCR. These amino acids have distinct biochemical properties and may thus affect protein function and/or structure. To our knowledge, our study is the first to link genetic variation in flightin to cold tolerance, or thermal adaptation in general.
  • Rytkönen, Seppo; Vesterinen, Eero J.; Westerduin, Coen; Leviäkangas, Tiina; Vatka, Emma; Mutanen, Marko; Välimäki, Panu; Hukkanen, Markku; Suokas, Marko; Orell, Markku (2019)
    Diets play a key role in understanding trophic interactions. Knowing the actual structure of food webs contributes greatly to our understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The research of prey preferences of different predators requires knowledge not only of the prey consumed, but also of what is available. In this study, we applied DNA metabarcoding to analyze the diet of 4 bird species (willow tits Poecile montanus, Siberian tits Poecile cinctus, great tits Parus major and blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus) by using the feces of nestlings. The availability of their assumed prey (Lepidoptera) was determined from feces of larvae (frass) collected from the main foraging habitat, birch (Betula spp.) canopy. We identified 53 prey species from the nestling feces, of which 11 (21%) were also detected from the frass samples (eight lepidopterans). Approximately 80% of identified prey species in the nestling feces represented lepidopterans, which is in line with the earlier studies on the parids' diet. A subsequent laboratory experiment showed a threshold for fecal sample size and the barcoding success, suggesting that the smallest frass samples do not contain enough larval DNA to be detected by high-throughput sequencing. To summarize, we apply metabarcoding for the first time in a combined approach to identify available prey (through frass) and consumed prey (via nestling feces), expanding the scope and precision for future dietary studies on insectivorous birds.
  • Girardello, Marco; Chapman, Anna; Dennis, Roger; Kaila, Lauri; Borges, Paulo; Santangeli, Andrea (2019)
    Species distribution data are crucial for assessing the conservation status of species (red listing, IUCN) and implementing international conservation targets, such as those set by the International Convention on Biological Diversity. Although there have been a number of efforts aimed at aggregating biodiversity data, information on the distribution of many taxa is still scanty (i.e. the Wallacean Shortfall). In this study, we use a large database, including over 19 million species occurrence records, to identify knowledge gaps in biodiversity inventories for butterfly records at a global level. Bayesian hierarchical spatial models were used to quantify the relationship between gaps in inventory completeness and the density of roads, protected areas and elevational range, the former variable being a proxy for accessibility, the latter two for attractiveness to recorders. Our results show that despite > 100 years of butterfly sampling, knowledge of the distribution of butterflies is still limited in tropical areas. The results revealed that gaps in butterfly inventories are largely concentrated in areas of low elevational range, low density of protected areas and low road density. We conclude that the Wallacean Shortfall is a problem even for one of the best studied insect groups. In the light of these data limitations, we discuss prospects for filling gaps in butterfly inventories at the global scale within relatively short time frames. We argue that a combination of citizen science and quantitative tools may help to fill knowledge gaps and inform conservation decisions.
  • Lee, Kyung Min; Kivelä, Sami M.; Ivanov, Vladislav; Hausmann, Axel; Kaila, Lauri; Wahlberg, Niklas; Mutanen, Marko (2018)
    A rapid shift from traditional Sanger sequencing-based molecular methods to the phylogenomic approach with large numbers of loci is underway. Among phylogenomic methods, restriction site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing approaches have gained much attention as they enable rapid generation of up to thousands of loci randomly scattered across the genome and are suitable for nonmodel species. RAD data sets however suffer from large amounts of missing data and rapid locus dropout along with decreasing relatedness among taxa. The relationship between locus dropout and the amount of phylogenetic information retained in the data has remained largely uninvestigated. Similarly, phylogenetic hypotheses based on RAD have rarely been compared with phylogenetic hypotheses based on multilocus Sanger sequencing, even less so using exactly the same species and specimens. We compared the Sanger-based phylogenetic hypothesis (8 loci; 6172 bp) of 32 species of the diverse moth genus Eupithecia (Lepidoptera, Geometridae) to that based on double-digest RAD sequencing (3256 loci; 726,658 bp). We observed that topologies were largely congruent, with some notable exceptions that we discuss. The locus dropout effect was strong. We demonstrate that number of loci is not a precise measure of phylogenetic information since the number of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) may remain low at very shallow phylogenetic levels despite large numbers of loci. As we hypothesize, the number of SNPs and parsimony informative SNPs (PIS) is low at shallow phylogenetic levels, peaks at intermediate levels and, thereafter, declines again at the deepest levels as a result of decay of available loci. Similarly, we demonstrate with empirical data that the locus dropout affects the type of loci retained, the loci found in many species tending to show lower interspecific distances than those shared among fewer species. We also examine the effects of the numbers of loci, SNPs, and PIS on nodal bootstrap support, but could not demonstrate with our data our expectation of a positive correlation between them. We conclude that RAD methods provide a powerful tool for phylogenomics at an intermediate phylogenetic level as indicated by its broad congruence with an eight-gene Sanger data set in a genus of moths. When assessing the quality of the data for phylogenetic inference, the focus should be on the distribution and number of SNPs and PIS rather than on loci.
  • Murillo Ramos, Leidys Del Carmen; Chazot, Nicolas; Sihvonen, Pasi; Õunap, Erki; Jiang, Nan; Han, Hongxiang; Clarke, John T.; Davis, Robert B.; Tammaru, Toomas; Wahlberg, Niklas (2021)
    Understanding how and why some groups have become more species-rich than others, and how past biogeography may have shaped their current distribution, are questions that evolutionary biologists have long attempted to answer. We investigated diversification patterns and historical biogeography of a hyperdiverse lineage of Lepidoptera, the geometrid moths, by studying its most species-rich tribe Boarmiini, which comprises ca. 200 genera and ca. known 3000 species. We inferred the evolutionary relationships of Boarmiini based on a dataset of 346 taxa, with up to eight genetic markers under a maximum likelihood approach. The monophyly of Boarmiiniis strongly supported. However, the phylogenetic position of many taxa does not agree with current taxonomy, although the monophyly of most major genera within the tribe is supported after minor adjustments. Three genera are synonymized, one new combination is proposed, and four species are placed in incertae sedis within Boarmiini. Our results support the idea of a rapid initial diversification of Boarmiini, which also implies that no major taxonomic subdivisions of the group can currently be proposed. A time-calibrated tree and biogeographical analyses suggest that boarmiines appeared in Laurasia ca. 52 Mya, followed by dispersal events throughout the Australasian, African and Neotropical regions. Most of the transcontinental dispersal events occurred in the Eocene, a period of intense geological activity and rapid climate change. Diversification analyses showed a relatively constant diversification rate for all Boarmiini, except in one clade containing the species-rich genus Cleora. The present work represents a substantial contribution towards understanding the evolutionary origin of Boarmiini moths. Our results, inevitably biased by taxon sampling, highlight the difficulties with working on species-rich groups that have not received much attention outside of Europe. Specifically, poor knowledge of the natural history of geometrids (particularly in tropical clades) limits our ability to identify key innovations underlying the diversification of boarmiines.
  • Gauthier, Jérémy; Pajkovic, Mila; Neuenschwander, Samuel; Kaila, Lauri; Schmid, Sarah; Orlando, Ludovic; Alvarez, Nadir (2020)
    Erosion of biodiversity generated by anthropogenic activities has been studied for decades in many areas at species level, using taxa monitoring. In contrast, genetic erosion within species has rarely been tracked, and is often studied by inferring past population dynamics from contemporaneous estimators. An alternative to such inferences is the direct examination of past genes, by analysing museum collection specimens. While providing direct access to genetic variation over time, historical DNA is usually not optimally preserved, and it is necessary to apply genotyping methods based on hybridization-capture to unravel past genetic variation. In this study, we apply such a method (i.e., HyRAD), to large time series of two butterfly species in Finland, and present a new bioinformatic pipeline, namely PopHyRAD, that standardizes and optimizes the analysis of HyRAD data at the within-species level. In the localities for which the data retrieved have sufficient power to accurately examine genetic dynamics through time, we show that genetic erosion has increased across the last 100 years, as revealed by signatures of allele extinctions and heterozygosity decreases, despite local variations. In one of the two butterflies (Erebia embla), isolation by distance also increased through time, revealing the effect of greater habitat fragmentation over time.
  • Kohonen, Ilmari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Global biodiversity continues to decline. Recent reports of decline in insect abundance and biomass are concerning, given the crucial roles insects play in multiple ecosystem processes, such as pollination, nutrient cycling and as a food resource for higher trophic levels. Based on the current state of the literature, it appears that total insect abundance and biomass are in decline, but there is considerable variation in trajectories in different regions and taxa. Many studies report on either aggregated community abundance or biomass, but few have examined how closely these two variables are correlated. For example, declining trends in large-bodied species could have disproportionately large effects on total biomass, even if total abundance remained stable. This, in turn, could have substantial consequences for predators dependent on insect biomass for food. Whether studying total abundance or biomass, long-term monitoring data are essential for robust estimation of temporal trends. In my thesis, I investigated trends in macro-moth abundance and biomass using data from the Finnish moth monitoring scheme (Nocturna) over a period of 24 years (1993-2016). My main objectives were to explore whether total abundance and biomass have changed over the timeframe examined, and to estimate the degree of correlation between the two variables in these data. As is typical for monitoring programs, only counts of moth individuals have been recorded. In order to obtain information on biomass, I created a predictive model for converting the recorded abundance counts to dry biomass based on species mean wingspan and body robustness. I weighed museum collection specimens of common moth species of variable sizes, and used these data for fitting the model. Additionally, I also investigated how local weather (thermal and precipitation) conditions during the growing season and winter relate to interannual variation in total abundance. Finally, I analysed potentially informative species traits (e.g., wingspan, voltinism, overwintering stage) in relation to population trends of individual species, because such associations could be underlying change in total abundance or biomass. There was no long-term change in total macro-moth abundance or biomass over the 24-year monitoring period. Abundance and biomass were very highly correlated (r > 0.9). In terms of interannual variation, total moth abundance and biomass showed a distinctive pattern suggestive of periodicity, with peaks at approximately 10-year intervals. Local weather conditions were very weakly associated with annual change rates of total abundance, leaving the interannual pattern unexplained. Lichen-feeding and multivoltinism (multiple generations per year) were positively related to population trends, supporting earlier findings. Especially relevant to potential trends in biomass, wingspan showed no relationship with positive or negative trends, which is in line with the high correlation between abundance and biomass in this dataset. My results imply that the total abundance and biomass trends in boreal Europe diverge from those commonly reported from temperate Europe. Further research is required to shed light on factors underlying total insect abundance and biomass trends. The method I developed for converting moth abundance to biomass is applicable to similar work elsewhere.
  • Heliövaara, Kari; Väisänen, Rauno (Suomen metsätieteellinen seura, 1986)
  • Virtanen, T.; Neuvonen, S. (Springer, 1999)
    Abstract We studied topographical and year-to-year variation in the performance (pupal weights, survival) and larval parasitism of Epirrita autumnata larvae feeding on mountain birch in northernmost Finland in 1993-1996. We found differences in both food plant quality and parasitism between sites ranging from 80 m to 320 m above sea level. Variation in food plant quality had particularly marked effects on larval survival. The advanced phenology of the birches in relation to the start of the larval period reduced pupal weights. Parasitism rates were different between years and between sites. The clearest site differences were in the proportions of different parasitoid species: Eulophus larvarum was most abundant at the lowest-altitude sites, and Cotesia jucunda at the highest. Differences in the performance of E. autumnata were related to temperature conditions: at higher temperatures, survival and the egg production index were lower, and larval parasitism was higher than at lower temperatures. The higher parasitism at higher temperatures was probably due to greater parasitoid activity during warmer days. In the comparison of different sources of spatial and annual variation in the performance of E. autumnata, the most important factor appeared to be egg mortality related to minimum winter temperature, followed by parasitism and, finally, the variation in food plant quality. If, as predicted, the climate gradually warms up, the effects of warmer summers on the outbreaks of E. autumnata suggest a decrease in outbreak intensity.
  • Almeida, Diana Abondano; Mappes, Johanna; Gordon, Swanne (2021)
    Predator-induced plasticity in life-history and antipredator traits during the larval period has been extensively studied in organisms with complex life-histories. However, it is unclear whether different levels of predation could induce warning signals in aposematic organisms. Here, we investigated whether predator-simulated handling affects warning coloration and life-history traits in the aposematic wood tiger moth larva, Arctia plantaginis. As juveniles, a larger orange patch on an otherwise black body signifies a more efficient warning signal against predators but this comes at the costs of conspicuousness and thermoregulation. Given this, one would expect that an increase in predation risk would induce flexible expression of the orange patch. Prior research in this system points to plastic effects being important as a response to environmental changes for life history traits, but we had yet to assess whether this was the case for predation risk, a key driver of this species evolution. Using a full-sib rearing design, in which individuals were reared in the presence and absence of a non-lethal simulated bird attack, we evaluated flexible responses of warning signal size (number of orange segments), growth, molting events, and development time in wood tiger moths. All measured traits except development time showed a significant response to predation. Larvae from the predation treatment developed a more melanized warning signal (smaller orange patch), reached a smaller body size, and molted more often. Our results suggest plasticity is indeed important in aposematic organisms, but in this case may be complicated by the trade-off between costly pigmentation and other life-history traits.
  • Aro, J. E. (Otava, 1900)
    Wanamon kirjoja
  • Rosa, Elena; van Nouhuys, Saskya; Saastamoinen, Marjo (2017)
    Aggregation can confer advantages in animal foraging, defense, and thermoregulation. There is a tight connection between the evolution of insect sociality and a highly effective immune system, presumably to inhibit rapid disease spread in a crowded environment. This connection is less evident for animals that spend only part of their life cycle in a social environment, such as noneusocial gregarious insects. Our aim was to elucidate the effects of group living by the gregarious larvae of the Glanville fritillary butterfly with respect to individual performance, immunity, and susceptibility to a parasitoid. We were also interested in the role of family relative to common postdiapause environment in shaping life-history traits. Larvae were reared at high or low density and then exposed to the pupal parasitoid wasp Pteromalus apum, either in presence or absence of a previous immune challenge that was used to measure the encapsulation immune response. Surviving adult butterflies were further tested for immunity. The wasp offspring from successfully parasitized butterfly pupae were counted and their brood sex ratios assessed. Larvae reared at high density grew larger and faster than those at low density. Despite high mortality due to parasitism, survival was greater among individuals with high pupal immunity in both density treatments. Moreover, butterfly pupae reared at high density were able to kill a larger fraction of individuals in the parasitoid broods, although this did not increase survival of the host. Finally, a larger proportion of variation observed in most of the traits was explained by butterfly family than by common postdiapause rearing environment, except for adult survival and immunity, for which this pattern was reversed. This gregarious butterfly clearly benefits from high conspecific density in terms of developmental performance and its ability to fight a parasitoid. These positive effects may be driven by cooperative interactions during feeding.
  • Duplouy, Anne; Pranter, Robin; Warren-Gash, Haydon; Tropek, Robert; Wahlberg, Niklas (BioMed Central, 2020)
    Abstract Background Phylogenetically closely related strains of maternally inherited endosymbiotic bacteria are often found in phylogenetically divergent, and geographically distant insect host species. The interspecies transfer of the symbiont Wolbachia has been thought to have occurred repeatedly, facilitating its observed global pandemic. Few ecological interactions have been proposed as potential routes for the horizontal transfer of Wolbachia within natural insect communities. These routes are however likely to act only at the local scale, but how they may support the global distribution of some Wolbachia strains remains unclear. Results Here, we characterize the Wolbachia diversity in butterflies from the tropical forest regions of central Africa to discuss transfer at both local and global scales. We show that numerous species from both the Mylothris (family Pieridae) and Bicyclus (family Nymphalidae) butterfly genera are infected with similar Wolbachia strains, despite only minor interclade contacts across the life cycles of the species within their partially overlapping ecological niches. The phylogenetic distance and differences in resource use between these genera rule out the role of ancestry, hybridization, and shared host-plants in the interspecies transfer of the symbiont. Furthermore, we could not identify any shared ecological factors to explain the presence of the strains in other arthropod species from other habitats, or even ecoregions. Conclusion Only the systematic surveys of the Wolbachia strains from entire species communities may offer the material currently lacking for understanding how Wolbachia may transfer between highly different and unrelated hosts, as well as across environmental scales.