Browsing by Subject "WARNING COLORATION"

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  • Galarza, Juan A.; Murphy, Liam; Mappes, Johanna (2021)
    Antibiotics have long been used in the raising of animals for agricultural, industrial or laboratory use. The use of subtherapeutic doses in diets of terrestrial and aquatic animals to promote growth is common and highly debated. Despite their vast application in animal husbandry, knowledge about the mechanisms behind growth promotion is minimal, particularly at the molecular level. Evidence from evolutionary research shows that immunocompetence is resource-limited, and hence expected to trade off with other resource-demanding processes, such as growth. Here, we ask if accelerated growth caused by antibiotics can be explained by genome-wide trade-offs between growth and costly immunocompetence. We explored this idea by injecting broad-spectrum antibiotics into wood tiger moth (Arctia plantaginis) larvae during development. We follow several life-history traits and analyse gene expression (RNA-seq) and bacterial (r16S) profiles. Moths treated with antibiotics show a substantial depletion of bacterial taxa, faster growth rate, a significant downregulation of genes involved in immunity and significant upregulation of growth-related genes. These results suggest that the presence of antibiotics may aid in up-keeping the immune system. Hence, by reducing the resource load of this costly process, bodily resources may be reallocated to other key processes such as growth.
  • Kikuchi, David W.; Waldron, Samuel J.; Valkonen, Janne K.; Dobler, Susanne; Mappes, Johanna (2020)
    Mullerian mimicry is a classic example of adaptation, yet Muller's original theory does not account for the diversity often observed in mimicry rings. Here, we aimed to assess how well classical Mullerian mimicry can account for the colour polymorphism found in chemically defended Oreina leaf beetles by using field data and laboratory assays of predator behaviour. We also evaluated the hypothesis that thermoregulation can explain diversity between Oreina mimicry rings. We found that frequencies of each colour morph were positively correlated among species, a critical prediction of Mullerian mimicry. Predators learned to associate colour with chemical defences. Learned avoidance of the green morph of one species protected green morphs of another species. Avoidance of blue morphs was completely generalized to green morphs, but surprisingly, avoidance of green morphs was less generalized to blue morphs. This asymmetrical generalization should favour green morphs: indeed, green morphs persist in blue communities, whereas blue morphs are entirely excluded from green communities. We did not find a correlation between elevation and coloration, rejecting thermoregulation as an explanation for diversity between mimicry rings. Biased predation could explain within-community diversity in warning coloration, providing a solution to a long-standing puzzle. We propose testable hypotheses for why asymmetric generalization occurs, and how predators maintain the predominance of blue morphs in a community, despite asymmetric generalization.
  • De Pasqual, Chiara; Suisto, Kaisa; Kirvesoja, Jimi; Gordon, Swanne; Ketola, Tarmo; Mappes, Johanna (2022)
    The persistence of intrapopulation phenotypic variation typically requires some form of balancing selection because drift and directional selection eventually erode genetic variation. Heterozygote advantage remains a classic explanation for the maintenance of genetic variation in the face of selection. However, examples of heterozygote advantage, other than those associated with disease resistance, are rather uncommon. Across most of its distribution, males of the aposematic moth Arctia plantaginis have two hindwing phenotypes determined by a heritable one locus-two allele polymorphism (genotypes: WW/Wy = white morph, yy = yellow morph). Using genotyped moths, we show that the presence of one or two copies of the yellow allele affects several life-history traits. Reproductive output of both males and females and female mating success are negatively affected by two copies of the yellow allele. Females carrying one yellow allele (i.e., Wy) have higher fertility, hatching success, and offspring survival than either homozygote, thus leading to strong heterozygote advantage. Our results indicate strong female contribution especially at the postcopulatory stage in maintaining the color polymorphism. The interplay between heterozygote advantage, yellow allele pleiotropic effect, and morph-specific predation pressure may exert balancing selection on the color locus, suggesting that color polymorphism may be maintained through complex interactions between natural and sexual selection.
  • Winters, Anne E.; Lommi, Jenna; Kirvesoja, Jimi; Nokelainen, Ossi; Mappes, Johanna (2021)
    Aposematic organisms warn predators of their unprofitability using a combination of defenses, including visual warning signals, startling sounds, noxious odors, or aversive tastes. Using multiple lines of defense can help prey avoid predators by stimulating multiple senses and/or by acting at different stages of predation. We tested the efficacy of three lines of defense (color, smell, taste) during the predation sequence of aposematic wood tiger moths (Arctia plantaginis) using blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) predators. Moths with two hindwing phenotypes (genotypes: WW/Wy = white, yy = yellow) were manipulated to have defense fluid with aversive smell (methoxypyrazines), body tissues with aversive taste (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) or both. In early predation stages, moth color and smell had additive effects on bird approach latency and dropping the prey, with the strongest effect for moths of the white morph with defense fluids. Pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration was detrimental in early attack stages, suggesting a trade-off between pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration and investment in other defenses. In addition, pyrrolizidine alkaloid taste alone did not deter bird predators. Birds could only effectively discriminate toxic moths from non-toxic moths when neck fluids containing methoxypyrazines were present, at which point they abandoned attack at the consumption stage. As a result, moths of the white morph with an aversive methoxypyrazine smell and moths in the treatment with both chemical defenses had the greatest chance of survival. We suggest that methoxypyrazines act as context setting signals for warning colors and as attention alerting or "go-slow" signals for distasteful toxins, thereby mediating the relationship between warning signal and toxicity. Furthermore, we found that moths that were heterozygous for hindwing coloration had more effective defense fluids compared to other genotypes in terms of delaying approach and reducing the latency to drop the moth, suggesting a genetic link between coloration and defense that could help to explain the color polymorphism. Conclusively, these results indicate that color, smell, and taste constitute a multimodal warning signal that impedes predator attack and improves prey survival. This work highlights the importance of understanding the separate roles of color, smell and taste through the predation sequence and also within-species variation in chemical defenses.
  • Gordon, Swanne P.; Burdfield-Steel, Emily; Kirvesoja, Jimi; Mappes, Riitta Johanna (2021)
    Polymorphic warning signals in aposematic systems are enigmatic because predator learning should favor the most common form, creating positive frequency-dependent survival. However, many populations exhibit variation in warning signals. There are various selective mechanisms that can counter positive frequency-dependent selection and lead to temporal or spatial warning signal diversification. Examining these mechanisms and their effects requires first confirming whether the most common morphs are favored at both local and regional scales. Empirical examples of this are uncommon and often include potentially confounding factors, such as a lack of knowledge of predator identity and behavior. We tested how bird behavior influences the survival of three coexisting morphs of the aposematic wood tiger moth Arctia plantaginis offered to a sympatric predator (great tit Parus major) at different frequencies. We found that although positive frequency-dependent selection is present, its strength is affected by predator characteristics and varying prey profitability. These results highlight the need to understand predator foraging in natural communities with variable prey defenses in order to better examine how behavioral interactions shape evolutionary outcomes.
  • Galarza, Juan A.; Mappes, Johanna (2021)
    We report the assembly and annotation of the complete mitochondrial genome of the warningly-coloured wood tiger moth (Arctia plantaginis) and investigate its phylogenetic position within Arctiinae. The A.plantaginis mitogenome is 15,479 bp long with 13 protein-coding genes, 22 transfer RNAs, 2 ribosomal RNA genes, and an A + T-rich region (D-loop). The phylogenetic analyses based on 13 protein-coding genes showed A.plantaginis clustering within a clade of species with white wings and yellow or red bodies. This result can be useful in understanding the evolution of coloration in Arctiid moths.