We present a large-scale molecular phylogeny of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), based on 4.5 kilobases of sequence data from six gene regions extracted from 139 of the 288 described extant genera, representing 19 of the 20 subfamilies. All but two subfamilies are recovered as monophyletic. Divergence time estimates calibrated by minimum age constraints from 43 fossils indicate that most of the subfamilies representing extant ants arose much earlier than previously proposed but only began to diversify during the Late Cretaceous to Early Eocene. This period also witnessed the rise of angiosperms and most herbivorous insects.
Many pathogens are virulent because they specifically interfere with host defense responses and therefore can proliferate. Here, we report that virulent strains of the bacterial phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae induce systemic susceptibility to secondary A syringae infection in the host plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This systemic induced susceptibility (SIS) is in direct contrast to the well studied avirulence/R gene-dependent resistance response known as the hypersensitive response that elicits systemic acquired resistance. We show that A syringae-elicited SIS is caused by the production of coronatine (COR), a pathogen -derived functional and structural mimic of the phytohormone jasmonic acid (JA). These data suggest that SIS may be a consequence of the previously described mutually antagonistic interaction between the salicylic acid and JA signaling pathways. Virulent P. syringae also has the potential to induce net systemic susceptibility to herbivory by an insect (Trichoplusia ni, cabbage looper), but this susceptibility is not caused by COR. Rather, consistent with its role as a A mimic, COR induces systemic resistance to T. ni. These data highlight the complexity of defense signaling interactions among plants, pathogens, and herbivores.
The reinforcement model of evolution argues that natural selection enhances pre-zygotic isolation between divergent populations or species by selecting against unfit hybrids(1,2) or costly interspecific matings(3). Reinforcement is distinguished from other models that consider the formation of reproductive isolation to be a by-product of divergent evolution(4,5). Although theory has shown that reinforcement is a possible mechanism that can lead to speciation(6-8), empirical evidence has been sufficiently scarce to raise doubts about the importance of reinforcement in nature(6,9,10). Agrodiaetus butterflies ( Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) exhibit unusual variability in chromosome number. Whereas their genitalia and other morphological characteristics are largely uniform, different species vary considerably in male wing colour, and provide a model system to study the role of reinforcement in speciation. Using comparative phylogenetic methods, we show that the sympatric distribution of 15 relatively young sister taxa of Agrodiaetus strongly correlates with differences in male wing colour, and that this pattern is most likely the result of reinforcement. We find little evidence supporting sympatric speciation: rather, in Agrodiaetus, karyotypic changes accumulate gradually in allopatry, prompting reinforcement when karyotypically divergent races come into contact.
Phylogenetic relationships among major clades of butterflies and skippers have long been controversial, with no general consensus even today. Such lack of resolution is a substantial impediment to using the otherwise well studied butterflies as a model group in biology. Here we report the results of a combined analysis of DNA sequences from three genes and a morphological data matrix for 57 taxa (3258 characters, 1290 parsimony informative) representing all major lineages from the three putative butterfly super-families (Hedyloidea, Hesperioidea and Papilionoidea), plus out-groups representing other ditrysian Lepidoptera families. Recently, the utility of morphological data as a source of phylogenetic evidence has been debated. We present the first well supported phylogenetic hypothesis for the butterflies and skippers based on a total-evidence analysis of both traditional morphological characters and new molecular characters from three gene regions (GOI, EF-1 alpha and wingless). All four data partitions show substantial hidden support for the deeper nodes, which emerges only in a combined analysis in which the addition of morphological data plays a crucial role. With the exception of Nymphalidae, the traditionally recognized families are found to be strongly supported monophyletic clades with the following relationships: (Hesperiidae+(Papilionidae+(Pieridae+(Nymphalidae+(Lycaenidae+Riodinidae))))). Nymphalidae is recovered as a monophyletic clade but this clade does not have strong support. Lycaenidae and Riodinidae are sister groups with strong support and we suggest that the latter be given family rank. The position of Pieridae as the sister taxon to nymphalids, lycaenids and riodinids is supported by morphology and the EF-1 alpha data but conflicted by the COI and wingless data. Hedylidae are more likely to be related to butterflies and skippers than geometrid moths and appear to be the sister group to Papilionoidea + Hesperioidea.
We investigate the evolution of host association in a cryptic complex of mutualistic Crematogaster (Decacrema) ants that inhabits and defends Macaranga trees in Southeast Asia. Previous phylogenetic studies based on limited samplings of Decacrema present conflicting reconstructions of the evolutionary history of the association, inferring both cospeciation and the predominance of host shifts. We use cytochrome oxidase I (COI) to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships in a comprehensive sampling of the Decacrema inhabitants of Macaranga. Using a published Macaranga phylogeny, we test whether the ants and plants have cospeciated. The COI phylogeny reveals 10 well-supported lineages and an absence of cospeciation. Host shifts, however, have been constrained by stem traits that are themselves correlated with Macaranga phylogeny. Earlier lineages of Decacrema exclusively inhabit waxy stems, a basal state in the Pachystemon clade within Macaranga, whereas younger species of Pachystemon, characterized by nonwaxy stems, are inhabited only by younger lineages of Decacrema. Despite the absence of cospeciation, the correlated succession of stem texture in both phylogenies suggests that Decacrema and Pachystemon have diversified in association, or codiversified. Subsequent to the colonization of the Pachystemon clade, Decacrema expanded onto a second clade within Macaranga, inducing the development of myrmecophytism in the Pruinosae group. Confinement to the aseasonal wet climate zone of western Malesia suggests myrmecophytic Macaranga are no older than the wet forest community in Southeast Asia, estimated to be about 20 million years old (early Miocene). Our calculation of COI divergence rates from several published arthropod studies that relied on tenable calibrations indicates a generally conserved rate of approximately 1.5% per million years. Applying this rate to a rate-smoothed Bayesian chronogram of the ants, the Decacrema from Macaranga are inferred to be at least 12 million years old (mid-Miocene). However, using the extremes of rate variation in COI produces an age as recent as 6 million years. Our inferred timeline based on 1.5% per million years concurs with independent biogeographical events in the region reconstructed from palynological data, thus suggesting that the evolutionary histories of Decacrema and their Pachystemon hosts have been contemporaneous since the mid-Miocene. The evolution of myrmecophytism enabled Macaranga to radiate into enemy-free space, while the ants' diversification has been shaped by stem traits, host specialization, and geographic factors. We discuss the possibility that the ancient and exclusive association between Decacrema and Macaranga was facilitated by an impoverished diversity of myrmecophytes and phytoecious (obligately plant inhabiting) ants in the region.
Large blue (Maculinea) butterflies are highly endangered throughout the Palaearctic region, and have been the focus of intense conservation research(1-3). In addition, their extraordinary parasitic lifestyles make them ideal for studies of life history evolution. Early instars consume flower buds of specific host plants, but later instars live in ant nests where they either devour the brood (predators), or are fed mouth-to-mouth by the adult ants (cuckoos). Here we present the phylogeny for the group, which shows that it is a monophyletic clade nested within Phengaris, a rare Oriental genus whose species have similar life histories(4,5). Cuckoo species are likely to have evolved from predatory ancestors. As early as five million years ago, two Maculinea clades diverged, leading to the different parasitic strategies seen in the genus today. Contrary to current belief, the two recognized cuckoo species show little genetic divergence and are probably a single ecologically differentiated species(6-10). On the other hand, some of the predatory morphospecies exhibit considerable genetic divergence and may contain cryptic species. These findings have important implications for conservation and reintroduction efforts.
We present a phylogeny for a selection of species of the butterfly genus Arhopala Boisduval, 1832 based on molecular characters. We sequenced 1778 bases of the mitochondrial genes Cytochrome Oxidase 1 and 2 including tRNA(Leu), and a 393-bp fragment of the nuclear wingless gene for a total of 42 specimens of 33 species, representing all major species groups. Analyses of mtDNA and wingless genes show congruent phylogenetic signal. The phylogeny presented here confirms the monophyly of the centaurus, eumolphus, camdeo and epimuta groups and the amphimuta subgroup. It confirms close relationships between species within the agelastus group, that together with the amphimuta subgroup, centaurus and camdeo groups form a monophyletic group. However, incongruencies with previous taxonomic studies also occur; the amphimuta and silhetensis groups are not monophyletic, as is the genus Arhopala itself. One enigmatic species, A. kinabala, was evaluated further for topology and the support for basal placement of this species is due mainly to the wingless gene. However, in the Parsimony analysis, and subsequent Maximum Likelihood evaluations, certain nodes could not be resolved due to insufficient support. The mtDNA shows extreme AT bias with compositional heterogeneity at 3rd codon positions, which may result in saturation. By contrast, the wingless gene does not show compositional bias, suggesting that poor support is not due solely to saturation. The evaluation of morphological characters used in previous studies on Arhopala systematics on the molecular tree indicates that the macular pattern and the absence of tails at the hind wings show extensive homoplasy. A significant phylogenetic signal (as indicated by T-PTP tests) is present in several of these morphological characters, which are nevertheless of limited use in phylogenetic studies due to their labile nature.
Butterflies in the large Palearctic genus Agrodiaetus ( Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) are extremely uniform and exhibit few distinguishing morphological characters. However, these insects are distinctive in one respect: as a group they possess among the greatest interspecific karyotype diversity in the animal kingdom, with chromosome numbers (n) ranging from 10 to 125. The monophyly of Agrodiaetus and its systematic position relative to other groups within the section Polyommatus have been controversial. Characters from the mitochondrial genes for cytochrome oxidases I and II and from the nuclear gene for elongation factor 1alpha were used to reconstruct the phylogeny of Agrodiaetus using maximum parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic methods. Ninety-one individuals, encompassing most of the taxonomic diversity of Agrodiaetus, and representatives of 14 related genera were included in this analysis. Our data indicate that Agrodiaetus is monophyletic. Representatives of the genus Polyommatus ( sensu stricto) are the closest relatives. The sequences of the Agrodiaetus taxa in this analysis are tentatively arranged into 12 clades, only 1 of which corresponds to a species group traditionally recognized in Agrodiaetus. Heterogeneous substitution rates across a recovered topology were homogenized with a nonparametric rate-smoothing algorithm before the application of a molecular clock. Two published estimates of substitution rates dated the origin of Agrodiaetus between 2.51 and 3.85 million years ago. During this time, there was heterogeneity in the rate and direction of karyotype evolution among lineages within the genus. Karyotype instability has evolved independently three times in the section Polyommatus, within the lineages Agrodiaetus, Lysandra, and Plebicula. Rapid karyotype diversification may have played a significant role in the radiation of the genus Agrodiaetus.
Molecular systematics is frequently beset with phylogenetic results that are not fully resolved. Researchers either state that the absence of resolution is due to character conflict, explosive speciation, or some combination of the two, but seldom do they carefully examine their data to distinguish between these causes. In this study, we exhaustively analyze a set of nuclear and mitochondrial nucleotide data for the Asian tropical butterfly genus Arhopala so as to highlight the causes of polytomies in the phylogenetic trees, and, as a result, to infer important biological events in the history of this genus. We began by using non-parametric statistical methods to determine whether the ambiguously resolved regions in these trees represent hard or soft polytomies. In addition we determined how this correlated to number of inferred changes on branches, using parametric maximum likelihood estimations. Based on congruent patterns in both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences, we concluded that at two stages in the history of Arhopala there have been accelerated instances of speciation. One event, at the base of the phylogeny, generated many of the groups and subgroups currently recognized in this genus, while a later event generated another major clade consisting of both Oriental and Papuan species groups. Based on comparisons of closely related taxa, the ratio of instantaneous rate of evolution between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA evolution is established at approximately 3:1. The earliest radiation is dated between 7 and 11 Ma by a molecular clock analysis, setting the events generating much of the diversity of Arhopala at well before the Pleistocene. Periodical flooding of the Sunda plateau during interglacial periods was, therefore, not responsible for generating the major divisions in the genus Arhopala. Instead, we hypothesize that large-scale climatic changes taking place in the Miocene have induced the early acceleration in speciation. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The estimated 6000 species of Lycaenidae account for about one third of all Papilionoidea. The majority of lycaenids have associations with ants that can be facultative or obligate and range from mutualism to parasitism. Lycaenid larvae and pupae employ complex chemical and acoustical signals to manipulate ants. Cost/benefit analyses have demonstrated multiple trade-offs involved in myrmecophily. Both demographic and phylogenetic evidence indicate that ant association has shaped the evolution of obligately associated groups. Parasitism typically arises from mutualism with ants, arid entomophagous species are disproportionately common in the Lycaenidae compared with other Lepidoptera. Obligate associations are more common in the Southern Hemisphere, in part because highly ant-associated lineages make up a larger proportion of the fauna in these, regions. Further research on phylogeny and natural history, particularly of the Neotropical fauna, will be necessary to understand the rote ant association has played in the evolution of the Lycaenidae.
Butterflies in the family Lycaenidae that have obligate associations with ants frequently exhibit ant-dependent egg laying behaviour. In a series of field and laboratory choice tests, we assessed oviposition preference of the Australian lycaenid Jalmenus evagoras in response to different species and populations of ants. Females discriminated between attendant and nonattendant ant species, between attendant ant species, and to some extent, between populations of a single ant species. When preferences were found, ovipositing butterflies preferred their locally predominant attendant ant species and geographically proximate attendant ant populations. A reciprocal choice test using adults from a generation of butterflies reared in the absence of ants indicated a genetic component to oviposition preference. Individual females were flexible with respect to oviposition site choice, often ovipositing on more than one treatment during a trial. Preferences arose from a hierarchical ranking of ant treatments. These results are discussed in terms of local adaptation and its possible significance in the diversification of ant-associated lycaenids.
Plants have evolved different but interconnected strategies to defend themselves against herbivorous insects and microbial pathogens. We used an Arabidopsis/Pseudomonas syringae pathosystem to investigate the impact of pathogen-induced defense responses on cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) larval feeding. Arabidopsis mutants [npr1, pad4, eds5, and sid2(eds16)] or transgenic plants (nahG) that are more susceptible to microbial pathogens and are compromised in salicylic acid (SA)-dependent defense responses exhibited reduced levels of feeding by T. ni compared with wild-type plants. Consistent with these results, Arabidopsis mutants that are more resistant to microbial pathogens and have elevated levels of SA (cpr1 and cpr6) exhibited enhanced levels of T. ni feeding. These experiments suggested an inverse relationship between an active SA defense pathway and insect feeding. In contrast to these results, there was increased resistance to T. ni in wild-type Arabidopsis ecotype Columbia plants that were infected with P. syringae pv. maculicola strain ES4326 (Psm ES4326) expressing the avirulence genes avrRpt2 or avrB, which elicit a hypersensitive response, high levels of SA accumulation, and systemic acquired resistance to bacterial infection. Similar results were obtained with other ecotypes, including Landsberg erecta, Cape Verdi Islands, and Shakdara. When infected with Psm ES4326(avrRpt2) or Psm ES4326(avrB), nahG transgenic and npr1 mutant plants (which are more susceptible to virulent and avirulent P. syringae strains) failed to show the increased insect resistance exhibited by wild-type plants. It was surprising that wild-type plants, as well as nahG and npr1 plants, infected with Psm ES4326 not expressing avrRpt2 or avrB, which elicits disease, became more susceptible to T. ni. Our results suggest two potentially novel systemic signaling pathways: a systemic response elicited by HR that leads to enhanced T. ni resistance and overrides the SA-mediated increase in T. ni susceptibility, and a SA-independent systemic response induced by virulent pathogens that leads to enhanced susceptibility to T. ni.
We assessed the quality of different ant species as partners of the facultatively myrmecophilous lycaenid butterfly Glaucopsyche lygdamus. We compared disappearance and parasitism rates of G. lygdamus larvae in the field, and development of non-feeding pre-pupae in the laboratory, when individuals were untended or tended by one of four ant species. Formica podzolica was the only ant species to provide a clear benefit to G. lygdamus, in the form of reduced larval parasitism relative to untended larvae. F. 'neogagates' (F. neogagates + F. lasioides) and Tapinoma sessile were essentially neutral partners, providing no significant cost or benefit for any of the parameters measured. Relative to untended individuals, association with F. obscuripes significantly increased larval disappearance and significantly decreased pupal mass. Thus, F. obscuripes may act as a parasite of the general association between G. lygdamus and ants under certain conditions. Ant species also differed in their persistence as tenders of G. lygdamus larvae once an interaction was established. Over the lifetime of a larva, F. podzolica and F. obscuripes usually remained as the attendant ant species on plants over consecutive census dates, while F. 'neogagates' and T. sessile were frequently replaced, most commonly by F. obscuripes. It remains to be determined if disappearance and developmental outcomes reported here reflect true fitness costs (i.e. reduced survivorship and lower reproductive success) for G. lygdamus. The potential and limitations for specialization in association between G. lygdamus and high quality ant partners are discussed.
Nest site selection is a frequent context for decision making in ants, but little is known of the criteria used to make a choice. We tested the nest site preferences of Leptothorax curvispinosus, both by measuring hollow acorn nests occupied in nature, and by inducing laboratory colonies to choose between artificial nests of different design. Three criteria were examined. (1) Entrance size: the ants preferred small entrance holes, presumably for their greater defensibility and crypsis. Natural nest entrances were small, and 52% of them were reduced still further by the addition of rims of soil and leaf litter. In choice tests, colonies selected nest entrances near the median size of rimmed natural holes, rejecting those near the larger end of the distribution of raw natural holes. (2) Cavity volume: acorn cavity volume was weakly correlated with the size of the occupying colony. In choice tests, colonies rejected cavities near the median size of natural nests, preferring instead larger cavities near the upper end of the natural size distribution. This may reflect active size matching of colonies to nests, because the colonies used in the choice test were bigger than those from the natural nest sample. Alternatively, all colonies may prefer big nests, but face limited availability of large cavities in nature. (3) Cavity shape: colonies preferred shapes roughly similar to that of an acorn interior, rejecting thin crevices in favour of compact, high-ceilinged cavities. (C) 2001 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
Ecological theory has long supported the idea that species coexistence in a homogeneous habitat is promoted by spatial structure, but empirical evidence for this hypothesis has lagged behind theory. Here we describe a Neotropical ant-plant symbiosis that is ideally suited for testing spatial models of coexistence. Two genera of ants, Allomerus cf. demerarae and three species of Azteca are specialized to live on a single species of ant-plant, Cordia nodosa, in a Western Amazonian tropical rain forest. Empirically, using census data from widely separated localities, we show that the relative colonization abilities of the two ant genera are a function of plant density. A parameterized model shows that this pattern alone is sufficiently robust to explain coexistence in;the system. Census and experimental data suggest that Azteca queens are better long-distance flyers, but that Allomerus colonies are more fecund. Thus, Azteca can dominate in areas where host-plant densities are low land parent colony-sapling distances are long), and Allomerus can dominate in areas where host-plant densities are high. Existing spatial heterogeneity in host-plant densities therefore can allow regional coexistence, and intersite dispersal can produce local mixing. In conclusion, a dispersal-fecundity trade-off appears to allow the two genera to treat spatial heterogeneity in patch density as a niche axis. This study further suggests that a spatially structured approach is essential in understanding the persistence of some mutualisms in the presence of parasites.
This study examines the pattern of opsin nucleotide and amino acid substitution among mimetic species 'rings' of Heliconius butterflies that are characterized by divergent wing colour patterns. A long wavelength opsin gene, OPS1, was sequenced from each of seven species of Heliconius and one species of Dryas (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). A parsimony analysis of OPS1 nucleotide and amino acid sequences resulted in a phylogeny that was consistent with that presented by Brewer & Egan in 1997, which was based on mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I and II as well as nuclear wingless genes. Nodes in the OPS1 phylogeny were well supported by bootstrap analysis and decay indices. An analysis of specific sites within the gene indicates that the accumulation of amino acid substitutions has occurred independently of the morphological diversification of Heliconius wing colour patterns. Amino acid substitutions were examined with respect to their location within the opsin protein and their possible interactions with the chromophore and the G-protein. Of the 15 amino acid substitutions identified among the eight species, one nonconservative replacement (A226Q) was identified in a position that may be involved in binding with the G-protein. (C) 2001 The Linnean Society of London.
Despite the fact that Bicyclus anynana has become an important model species for wing-pattern developmental biology and studies of phenotypic plasticity, little is known of the evolutionary history of the genus Bicyclus and the position of B. anynana. Understanding the evolution of development as well as the evolution of plasticity can be attempted in this species-rich genus that displays a large range of wing patterns with variable degrees of phenotypic responses to the environment. A context to guide extrapolations from population genetic studies within B. anynana to those between closely related species has been long overdue. A phylogeny of 54 of the 80 known Bicyclus species is presented based on the combined 3000-bp sequences of two mitochondrial genes, cytochrome oxidase I and II, and the nuclear gene, elongation factor I alpha. A series of tree topologies, constructed either from the individual genes or from the combined data, using heuristic searches under a variety of weighting schemes were compared under the best maximum-likelihood models fitted for each gene separately. The most likely tree topology to have generated the three data sets was found to be a tree resulting from a combined MP analysis with equal weights. Most phylogenetic signal for the analysis comes from silent substitutions at the third position, and despite the faster rate of evolution and higher levels of homoplasy of the mitochondrial genes relative to the nuclear gene, the latter does not show substantially stronger support for basal clades. Finally, moving branches from the chosen tree topology to other positions on the tree so as to comply better with a previous morphological study did not significantly affect tree length. (C) 2001 Academic Press.