- Publication Date:
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- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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BACKGROUND Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex tackled the two main controversies arising from the Origin of Species: the evolution of humans from animal ancestors and the evolution of sexual ornaments. Most of the book focuses on the latter, Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. Research since supports his conjecture that songs, perfumes, and intricate dances evolve because they help secure mating partners. Evidence is overwhelming for a primary role of both male and female mate choice in sexual selection—not only through premating courtship but also through intimate interactions during and long after mating. But what makes one prospective mate more enticing than another? Darwin, shaped by misogyny and sexual prudery, invoked a “taste for the beautiful” without speculating on the origin of the “taste.” How to explain when the “final marriage ceremony” is between two rams? What of oral sex in bats, cloacal rubbing in bonobos, or the sexual spectrum in humans, all observable in Darwin’s time? By explaining desire through the lens of those male traits that caught his eyes and those of his gender and culture, Darwin elided these data in his theory of sexual evolution. Work since Darwin has focused on howmore »
Behavioral isolation can catalyze speciation and permit the slow accumulation of additional reproductive barriers between co-occurring organisms. We illustrate how this process occurs by examining the genomic and behavioral bases of pre-mating isolation between two bird species (
Sporophila hypoxanthaand the recently discovered S. iberaensis) that belong to the southern capuchino seedeaters, a recent, rapid radiation characterized by variation in male plumage coloration and song. Although these two species co-occur without obvious ecological barriers to reproduction, we document behaviors indicating species recognition by song and plumage traits and strong assortative mating associated with genomic regions underlying male plumage patterning. Plumage differentiation likely originated through the reassembly of standing genetic variation, indicating how novel sexual signals may quickly arise and maintain species boundaries.
Can the genomics of ecological speciation be predicted across the divergence continuum from host races to species? A case study in RhagoletisStudies assessing the predictability of evolution typically focus on short-term adaptation within populations or the repeatability of change among lineages. A missing consideration in speciation research is to determine whether natural selection predictably transforms standing genetic variation within populations into differences between species. Here, we test whether and how host-related selection on diapause timing associates with genome-wide differentiation during ecological speciation by comparing ancestral hawthorn and newly formed apple-infesting host races of Rhagoletis pomonella to their sibling species Rhagoletis mendax that attacks blueberries. The associations of 57 857 single nucleotide polymorphisms in a diapause genome-wide-association study (GWAS) on the hawthorn race strongly predicted the direction and magnitude of genomic divergence among the three fly populations at a field site in Fennville, MI, USA. The apple race and R. mendax show parallel changes in the frequencies of putative inversions on three chromosomes associated with the earlier fruiting times of apples and blueberries compared to hawthorns. A diapause GWAS on R. mendax revealed compensatory changes throughout the genome accounting for the earlier eclosion of blueberry, but not apple flies. Thus, a degree of predictability, although not complete, exists in the genomics of diapause across the ecological speciation continuum in Rhagoletis . Themore »
Chemosensory communication is essential to insect biology, playing indispensable roles during mate-finding, foraging, and oviposition behaviors. These traits are particularly important during speciation, where chemical perception may serve to establish species barriers. However, identifying genes associated with such complex behavioral traits remains a significant challenge. Through a combination of transcriptomic and genomic approaches, we characterize the genetic architecture of chemoperception and the role of chemosensing during speciation for a young species pair of Heliconius butterflies, Heliconius melpomene and Heliconius cydno . We provide a detailed description of chemosensory gene-expression profiles as they relate to sensory tissue (antennae, legs, and mouthparts), sex (male and female), and life stage (unmated and mated female butterflies). Our results untangle the potential role of chemical communication in establishing barriers during speciation and identify strong candidate genes for mate and host plant choice behaviors. Of the 252 chemosensory genes, HmOBP20 (involved in volatile detection) and HmGr56 (a putative synephrine-related receptor) emerge as strong candidates for divergence in pheromone detection and host plant discrimination, respectively. These two genes are not physically linked to wing-color pattern loci or other genomic regions associated with visual mate preference. Altogether, our results provide evidence for chemosensory divergence between H. melpomene andmore »
Insect societies vary greatly in their social structure, mating biology, and life history. Polygyny, the presence of multiple reproductive queens in a single colony, and polyandry, multiple mating by females, both increase the genetic variability in colonies of eusocial organisms, resulting in potential reproductive conflicts. The co-occurrence of polygyny and polyandry in a single species is rarely observed across eusocial insects, and these traits have been found to be negatively correlated in ants.
Acromyrmexleaf-cutting ants are well-suited for investigating the evolution of complex mating strategies because both polygyny and polyandry co-occur in this genus. We used microsatellite markers and parentage inference in five South American Acromyrmexspecies to study how different selective pressures influence the evolution of polygyny and polyandry. We show that Acromyrmexspecies exhibit independent variation in mating biology and social structure, and polygyny and polyandry are not necessarily negatively correlated within genera. One species, Acromyrmex lobicornis, displays a significantly lower mating frequency compared to others, while another species, A. lundii, appears to have reverted to obligate monogyny. These variations appear to have a small impact on average intra-colonial relatedness, although the biological significance of such a small effect size is unclear. All species show significant reproductive skew between patrilines, but there was no significantmore » Significance statement
Many species of eusocial insects have colonies with multiple queens (polygyny), or queens mating with multiple males (polyandry). Both behaviors generate potentially beneficial genetic diversity in ant colonies as well as reproductive conflict. The co-occurrence of both polygyny and polyandry in a single species is only known from few ant species. Leaf-cutting ants have both multi-queen colonies and multiply mated queens, providing a well-suited system for studying the co-evolutionary dynamics between mating behavior and genetic diversity in colonies of eusocial insects. We used microsatellite markers to infer the socio-reproductive behavior in five South American leaf-cutter ant species. We found that variation in genetic diversity in colonies was directly associated with the mating frequencies of queens, but not with the number of queens in a colony. We suggest that multi-queen nesting and mating frequency evolve independently of one another, indicating that behavioral and ecological factors other than genetic diversity contribute to the evolution of complex mating behaviors in leaf-cutting ants.