Rapid evolution and specialization following host colonization in a yucca moth


Joshua D. Groman Predoctoral Program In Human Genetics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, PCTB 802, 725 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205-2185, USA. Tel.: +1 410 223 1273; fax: +1 410 955 7397; e-mail: jgroman@jhmi.edu


Host shifts followed by specialization can result in sympatric genetic differentiation, and may have fuelled the diversification of phytophagous insects. This study examines a recent colonization of a non-native host by Prodoxus quinquepunctellus (Lepidoptera: Prodoxidae). Allozyme differentiation was detected among different host feeding populations, yet was nearly absent among similar host feeding populations in sympatry. Geographical patterns of allozyme variation showed a much higher level of population structure among populations feeding on the derived host. Conversely, mtDNA haplotype frequencies were nearly homogeneous in the derived populations compared to the ancestral populations, suggesting a bottleneck and/or rapid fixation of haplotypes following host colonization. Moth emergence coincided with host plant flowering, and phenological differences between host species translated into allochronic isolation between populations feeding on different hosts. Derived moth populations also differed significantly in three ovipositor characters from ancestral populations. These findings suggest rapid host-specific genetic differentiation, and specialization of moth emergence time and ovipositor morphology following host colonization.