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Keywords:

  • contemporary evolution;
  • flight polymorphisms;
  • genetic architecture;
  • host races;
  • local adaptation;
  • reverse evolution selection;
  • soapberry bugs

Abstract

Little is known about the influence of genetic architecture on local adaptation. We investigated the genetic architecture of the rapid contemporary evolution of mouthparts, the flight polymorphism and life history traits in the soapberry bug Jadera haematoloma (Hemiptera) using laboratory selection. The mouthparts of these seed-feeding bugs have adapted in 40–50 years by decreasing in length following novel natural selection induced by a host switch to the seeds of an introduced tree with smaller fruits than those of the native host vine. Laboratory selection on beak length in both an ancestral population feeding on the native host and a derived population feeding on the introduced host reveals genetic variance allowing a rapid response (heritabilities of 0.51–0.87) to selection for either longer or shorter beaks. This selection resulted in reverse evolution by restoring long beaks in the derived population and forward evolution by re-creating short beaks in the ancestral bugs. There were strong genetic correlations (0.68–0.84) in both populations between beak lengths and the frequency of flight morphs, with short beaks associated with short wings. The results reveal a genetically interrelated set of adaptive multivariate traits including both beak length and flight morph. This suite of traits reflects host plant patchiness and seeding phenology. Weaker evidence suggests that egg mass and early egg production may be elements of the same suite. Reversible or forward evolution thus may occur in a broad set of genetically correlated multivariate traits undergoing rapid contemporary adaptation to altered local environments.