Genome-wide sequence data suggest the possibility of pollinator sharing by host shift in dioecious figs (Moraceae, Ficus)



The obligate mutualism of figs and fig-pollinating wasps has been one of the classic models used for testing theories of co-evolution and cospeciation due to the high species-specificity of these relationships. To investigate the species-specificity between figs and fig pollinators and to further understand the speciation process in obligate mutualisms, we examined the genetic differentiation and phylogenetic relationships of four closely related fig-pollinating wasp species (Blastophaga nipponica, Blastophaga taiwanensis, Blastophaga tannoensis and Blastophaga yeni) in Japan and Taiwan using genome-wide sequence data, including mitochondrial DNA sequences. In addition, population structure was analysed for the fig wasps and their host species using microsatellite data. The results suggest that the three Taiwanese fig wasp species are a single panmictic population that pollinates three dioecious fig species, which are sympatrically distributed, have large differences in morphology and ecology and are also genetically differentiated. Our results illustrate the first case of pollinator sharing by host shift in the subgenus Ficus. On the other hand, there are strict genetic codivergences between allopatric populations of the two host–pollinator pairs. The possible processes that produce these pollinator-sharing events are discussed based on the level and pattern of genetic differentiation in these figs and fig wasps.