Stephanie M. Pappers, Gerard van der Velde, N. Joop Ouborg, Jan M. van Groenendael
Evolution 56 (8), 1610-1621, (1 August 2002) https://doi.org/10.1554/0014-3820(2002)056[1610:GBPIMA]2.0.CO;2
KEYWORDS: Galerucella nymphaeae, heritability, host-associated fitness, host race formation, host preference, morphology
A host race is a population that is partially reproductively isolated from other conspecific populations as a direct consequence of adaptation to a specific host. The initial step in host race formation is the establishment of genetically based polymorphisms in, for example, morphology, preference, or performance. In this study we investigated whether polymorphisms observed in Galerucella nymphaeae have a genetic component. Galerucella nymphaeae, the water lily leaf beetle, is a herbivore which feeds and oviposits on the plant hosts Nuphar lutea and Nymphaea alba (both Nymphaeaceae) and Rumex hydrolapathum and Polygonum amphibium (both Polygonaceae).
A full reciprocal crossing scheme (16 crosses, each replicated 10 times) and subsequent transplantation of 1001 egg clutches revealed a genetic basis for differences in body length and mandibular width. The heritability value of these traits, based on midparent-offspring regression, ranged between 0.53 and 0.83 for the different diets. Offspring from Nymphaeaceae parents were on average 12% larger and had on average 18% larger mandibles than offspring from Polygonaceae parents. Furthermore, highly significant correlations were found between feeding preference of the offspring and the feeding preference of their parents.
Finally, two fitness components were measured: development time and survival. Development time was influenced by diet, survival both by cross type and diet, the latter of which suggest adaptation of the beetles. This suggestion is strengthened by a highly significant cross × diet interaction effect for development time as well as for survival, which is generally believed to indicate local adaptation. Although no absolute genetic incompatibility among putative host races was observed, survival of the between-host family offspring, on each diet separately, was lower than the survival of the within-host family offspring on that particular host. Survival of offspring of two Nymphaeaceae parents was about two times higher on Nymphaeaceae than on Polygonaceae, whereas survival of offspring of two Polygonaceae parents was 11 times higher on Polygonaceae than on Nymphaeaceae (based on untransformed data).
Based on these results, we conclude that genetically determined polymorphisms in morphology and feeding preference exist in G. nymphaeae, resulting in differential performance. Furthermore, in each diet separately, offspring of between-host family crosses were less fit than offspring of within-host family crosses. These results support the hypothesis that within this species two host races can be distinguished.