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  1. The morphology of insect-induced galls contributes to defences of the gall-inducing insect species against its natural enemies. In terms of gall chemistry, the only defensive compounds thus far identified in galls are tannins that accumulate in many galls, preventing damage by herbivores. Intrigued by the fruit-like appearance of the translucent oak gall (TOG; Amphibolips nubilipennis , Cynipidae, Hymenoptera) induced on red oak ( Quercus rubra ), we hypothesized that its chemical composition may deviate from other galls. We found that the pH of the gall is between 2 and 3, making it among the lowest pH levels found in plant tissues. We examined the organic acid content of TOG and compared it to fruits and other galls using high-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Malic acid, an acid with particularly high abundance in apples, represents 66% of the organic acid detected in TOGs. The concentration of malic acid was two times higher than in other galls and in apples. Gall histology showed that the acid-containing cells were enlarged and vacuolized just like fruits mesocarp cells. Accumulation of organic acid in gall tissues is convergent with fruit morphology and may constitute a new defensive strategy against predators and parasitoids. 
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  2. Bumble bees are characterized by their thick setal pile that imparts aposematic color patterns often used for species-level identification. Like all bees, the single-celled setae of bumble bees are branched, an innovation thought important for pollen collection. To date no studies have quantified the types of setal morphologies and their distribution on these bees, information that can facilitate understanding of their adaptive ecological function. This study defines several major setal morphotypes in the common eastern bumble bee Bombus impatiens Cresson, revealing these setal types differ by location across the body. The positions of these types of setae are similar across individuals, castes, and sexes within species. We analyzed the distribution of the two most common setal types (plumose and spinulate) across the body dorsum of half of the described bumble bee species. This revealed consistently high density of plumose (long-branched) setae across bumble bees on the head and mesosoma, but considerable variation in the amount of metasomal plumosity. Variation on the metasoma shows strong phylogenetic signal at subgeneric and smaller group levels, making it a useful trait for species delimitation research, and plumosity has increased from early Bombus ancestors. The distribution of these setal types suggests these setae may serve several functions, including pollen-collecting and thermoregulatory roles, and probable mechanosensory functions. This study further examines how and when setae of the pile develop, evidence for mechanosensory function, and the timing of pigmentation as a foundation for future genetic and developmental research in these bees. 
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  3. Wayne, Marta (Ed.)
    Abstract The Ichneumonoidea (Ichneumonidae and Braconidae) is an incredibly diverse superfamily of parasitoid wasps that includes species that produce virus-like entities in their reproductive tracts to promote successful parasitism of host insects. Research on these entities has traditionally focused upon two viral genera Bracovirus (in Braconidae) and Ichnovirus (in Ichneumonidae). These viruses are produced using genes known collectively as endogenous viral elements (EVEs) that represent historical, now heritable viral integration events in wasp genomes. Here, new genome sequence assemblies for 11 species and 6 publicly available genomes from the Ichneumonoidea were screened with the goal of identifying novel EVEs and characterizing the breadth of species in lineages with known EVEs. Exhaustive similarity searches combined with the identification of ancient core genes revealed sequences from both known and novel EVEs. One species harbored a novel, independently derived EVE related to a divergent large double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) virus that manipulates behavior in other hymenopteran species. Although bracovirus or ichnovirus EVEs were identified as expected in three species, the absence of ichnoviruses in several species suggests that they are independently derived and present in two younger, less widespread lineages than previously thought. Overall, this study presents a novel bioinformatic approach for EVE discovery in genomes and shows that three divergent virus families (nudiviruses, the ancestors of ichnoviruses, and Leptopilina boulardi Filamentous Virus-like viruses) are recurrently acquired as EVEs in parasitoid wasps. Virus acquisition in the parasitoid wasps is a common process that has occurred in many more than two lineages from a diverse range of arthropod-infecting dsDNA viruses. 
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  4. Abstract

    Bumble bees exhibit exceptional diversity in their segmental body coloration largely as a result of mimicry. In this study we sought to discover genes involved in this variation through studying a lab-generated mutant in bumble beeBombus terrestris,in which the typical black coloration of the pleuron, scutellum, and first metasomal tergite is replaced by yellow, a color variant also found in sister lineages toB. terrestris. Utilizing a combination of RAD-Seq and whole-genome re-sequencing, we localized the color-generating variant to a single SNP in the protein-coding sequence of transcription factorcut. This mutation generates an amino acid change that modifies the conformation of a coiled-coil structure outside DNA-binding domains. We found that all sequenced Hymenoptera, including sister lineages, possess the non-mutant allele, indicating different mechanisms are involved in the same color transition in nature.Cutis important for multiple facets of development, yet this mutation generated no noticeable external phenotypic effects outside of setal characteristics. Reproductive capacity was reduced, however, as queens were less likely to mate and produce female offspring, exhibiting behavior similar to that of workers. Our research implicates a novel developmental player in pigmentation, and potentially caste, thus contributing to a better understanding of the evolution of diversity in both of these processes.

     
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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. null (Ed.)
  7. Abstract

    As hybrid zones exhibit selective patterns of gene flow between otherwise distinct lineages, they can be especially valuable for informing processes of microevolution and speciation. The bumble bee,Bombus melanopygus, displays two distinct color forms generated by Müllerian mimicry: a northern “Rocky Mountain'’ color form with ferruginous mid‐abdominal segments (B.m.melanopygus) and a southern “Pacific'’ form with black mid‐abdominal segments (B.m.edwardsii). These morphs meet in a mimetic transition zone in northern California and southern Oregon that is more narrow and transitions further west than comimetic bumble bee species. To understand the historical formation of this mimicry zone, we assessed color distribution data forB.melanopygusfrom the last 100 years. We then examined gene flow among the color forms in the transition zone by comparing sequences from mitochondrial COI barcode sequences, color‐controlling loci, and the rest of the nuclear genome. These data support two geographically distinct mitochondrial haplogroups aligned to the ancestrally ferruginous and black forms that meet within the color transition zone. This clustering is also supported by the nuclear genome, which, while showing strong admixture across individuals, distinguishes individuals most by their mitochondrial haplotype, followed by geography. These data suggest the two lineages most likely were historically isolated, acquired fixed color differences, and then came into secondary contact with ongoing gene flow. The transition zone, however, exhibits asymmetries: mitochondrial haplotypes transition further south than color pattern, and both transition over shorter distances in the south. This system thus demonstrates alternative patterns of gene flow that occur in contact zones, presenting another example of mito‐nuclear discordance. Discordant gene flow is inferred to most likely be driven by a combination of mimetic selection, dominance effects, and assortative mating.

     
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  8. Pollinator nutritional ecology provides insights into plant–pollinator interactions, coevolution, and the restoration of declining pollinator populations. Bees obtain their protein and lipid nutrient intake from pollen, which is essential for larval growth and development as well as adult health and reproduction. Our previous research revealed that pollen protein to lipid ratios (P:L) shape bumble bee foraging preferences among pollen host-plant species, and these preferred ratios link to bumble bee colony health and fitness. Yet, we are still in the early stages of integrating data on P:L ratios across plant and bee species. Here, using a standard laboratory protocol, we present over 80 plant species’ protein and lipid concentrations and P:L values, and we evaluate the P:L ratios of pollen collected by three bee species. We discuss the general phylogenetic, phenotypic, behavioral, and ecological trends observed in these P:L ratios that may drive plant–pollinator interactions; we also present future research questions to further strengthen the field of pollination nutritional ecology. This dataset provides a foundation for researchers studying the nutritional drivers of plant–pollinator interactions as well as for stakeholders developing planting schemes to best support pollinators. 
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  9. Abstract

    Phenotypic polymorphism can constitute an inherent challenge for species delimitation. This issue is exemplified in bumble bees (Bombus), where species can exhibit high colour variation across their range, but otherwise exhibit little morphological variation to distinguish them from close relatives. We examine the species status of one of the most abundant North American bumble bees,Bombus bifariusCresson, which historically comprised two major taxa,bifariuss.s. andnearcticus. These lineages are recognized primarily by red and black variation in their mid‐abdominal coloration; however, a continuum from black (nearcticus) to red (bifariuss.s.) variation has led to their historic synonymization. Integrating mitochondrial and nuclear data and whole‐genome sequencing, we reveal a high level of both mitochondrial and nuclear divergence delimiting two morphologically cryptic species – the redbifariuss.s. and the colour‐variable (black to red)nearcticus. Population genomic analysis supports an absence of recent genomic admixture and a strong population structure between the two clades, even in sympatry. Species distribution models predict partially differentiated niches between the genetically inferred clades with annual precipitation being a leading differentiating variable. Thebifariuss.s. lineage also occupies significantly higher elevations, with regions of sympatry being among the highest elevations innearcticus. Our data also support a subspecies‐level divergence between the broadly distributednearcticusand the island populationvancouverensis. In this paper, we formally recognize the two species,Bombus bifariusCresson andBombus vancouverensisCresson, the latter including the subspeciesB. vancouverensis vancouverensiscomb.n.andB. vancouverensis nearcticuscomb.n., withvancouverensisthe name bearer due to year priority.

     
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