Jander G, Cui JP, Nhan B, Pierce NE, Ausubel FM. The TASTY locus on chromosome 1 of Arabidopsis affects feeding of the insect herbivore Trichoplusia ni. Plant Physiology. 2001;126 :890-898.Abstract

The generalist insect herbivore Trichoplusia ni (cabbage looper) readily consumes Arabidopsis and can complete its entire life cycle on this plant. Natural isolates (ecotypes) of Arabidopsis are not equally susceptible to T. ni feeding. While some are hardly touched by T. ni, others are eaten completely to the ground. Comparison of two commonly studied Arabidopsis ecotypes in choice experiments showed that Columbia is considerably more resistant than Landsberg erecta. In no-choice experiments, where larvae were confined on one or the other ecotype, weight gain was more rapid on Landsberg erects than on Columbia. Genetic mapping of this difference in insect susceptibility using recombinant inbred lines resulted in the discovery of the TASTY locus near 85 cM on chromosome 1 of Arabidopsis. The resistant allele of this locus is in the Columbia ecotype, and an F, hybrid has a sensitive phenotype that is similar to that of Landsberg erecta. The TASTY locus is distinct from known genetic differences between Columbia and Landsberg erecta that affect glucosinolate content, trichome density, disease resistance, and flowering time.

Rand DB, Heath A, Suderman T, Pierce NE. Phylogeny and life history evolution of the genus Chrysoritis within the Aphnaeini (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae), inferred from mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I sequences. Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution. 2000;17 :85-96.Abstract

Phylogenetic relationships among 26 South African species in the tribe Aphnaeini (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) were inferred from DNA characters of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I (COI), using maximum-parsimony methods. The resulting phylogenetic estimate supports the systematic hypothesis made by Heath (1997, Metamorphosis, supplement 2), based on morphological characters, that at least three preexisting genera (Chrysoritis, Poecilmitis, and Oxychaeta) should be collapsed into the single monophyletic genus Chrysoritis. Two of the species groups described by Heath within Chrysoritis are also monophyletic, while one is paraphyletic and thus unsupported by the molecular data. Strong node support and skewed transition/transversion ratios suggest that two Chrysoritis clades contain synonymous species. Aphytophagy appears as a derived feeding strategy. Evolutionary patterns of ant association indicate lability at the level of ant genus, while association with different ant subfamilies may have played an ancestral and chemically mediated role in the diversification of South African aphnaeines. ©

Travassos MA, Pierce NE. Acoustics, context and function of vibrational signalling in a lycaenid butterfly-ant mutualism. Animal Behaviour. 2000;60 :13-26.Abstract

Juveniles of the Australian common imperial blue butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras, produce substrate-borne vibrational signals in the form of two kinds of pupal calls and three larval calls. Pupae stridulate in the presence of conspecific larvae, when attended by an ant guard, and as a reaction against perturbation. Using pupal pairs in which one member was experimentally muted, pupal calls were shown to be important in ant attraction and the maintenance of an ant guard. A pupa may use-calls to regulate levels of its attendant ants and to signal its potential value in these mutualistic interactions. Therefore substrate-borne vibrations play a significant role in the communication between J. evagoras and its attendant ants and pupal calls appear to be more than just signals acting as a predator deterrent. Similarly, caterpillars make more sound when attended by Iridomyrmex anceps, suggesting that larval calls may be important in mediating ant symbioses. One larval call has the same mean dominant frequency, pulse rate, bandwidth and pulse length as the primary signal of a pupa, suggesting a similarity in function. (C) 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Hughes L, Chang BSW, Wagner D, Pierce NE. Effects of mating history on ejaculate size, fecundity, longevity, and copulation duration in the ant-tended lycaenid butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 2000;47 :119-128.Abstract

The mating system of the Australian lycaenid butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras, is highly unusual compared to most other Lepidoptera. Characteristics of this system, which has been termed an 'explosive mating strategy,' include the formation of an intensely competitive mating aggregation of males, a highly male biased operational sex ratio, a lack of discrimination and mate choice by both sexes, a high variance in male mating success, and female monogamy. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that multiple mating by males imposes physiological costs resulting in smaller spermatophores, and that this results in a fitness cost to females. We found that male J. evagoras transferred only 2.2% of their eclosion weight during their first mating, consistent with the hypothesis that males of monandrous species produce a relatively small investment. The wet weight of the ejaculate declined by an average of 27% at the second mating and the dry weight by 29%, and an intermating interval of 5-9 days was needed for the ejaculate to return to the size at the first mating, regardless of male size or age. Wet ejaculate mass increased proportionally with male size, though dry mass was proportionally larger in smaller males. Ejaculate mass tended to increase with male age at both first and second matings. Female characteristics, in general, did not affect ejaculate mass, although the wet weight of the ejaculate was positively associated with female weight at the second mating. Copulation duration increased from 2.4 h to approximately 3 h at the second mating, and to over 4 h at the third and fourth matings. Fecundity was positively correlated with female size but not with mating history, copulation duration, or any other characteristics measured for either males or females. Female longevity declined significantly as the number of times the male partner had previously mated increased. We conclude that despite the small male investment in ejaculate, the costs of multiple mating may nonetheless be significant, as indicated by the reduction in ejaculate mass, an increase in copulation duration, and reduction in female lifespan with increasing mating number.

Campbell DL, Brower AVZ, Pierce NE. Molecular evolution of the Wingless gene and its implications for the phylogenetic placement of the butterfly family riodinidae (Lepidoptera : Papilionoidea). Molecular Biology and Evolution. 2000;17 :684-696.Abstract

The sequence evolution of the nuclear gene wingless was investigated among 34 representatives of three lepidopteran families (Riodinidae, Lycaenidae, and Nymphalidae) and four outgroups, and its utility for inferring phylogenetic relationships among these taxa was assessed. Parsimony analysis yielded a well-resolved topology supporting the monophyly of the Riodinidae and Lycaenidae, respectively, and indicating that these two groups are sister lineages, with strong nodal support based on bootstrap and decay indices. Although, wingless provides robust support for relationships within and between the riodinids and the lycaenids, it is less informative about nymphalid relationships. Wingless does not consistently recover nymphalid monophyly or traditional subfamilial relationships within the nymphalids, and nodal support for all but the most recent branches in this family is low. Much of the phylogenetic information in this data set is derived from first- and second-position substitutions. However third positions, despite showing uncorrected pairwise divergences up to 78%, also contain consistent signal at deep nodes within the family Riodinidae and at the node defining the sister relationship between the riodinids and lycaenids. Several hypotheses about how third-position signal has been retained in deep nodes are discussed. These include among-site rate variation, identified as a significant factor by maximum likelihood analyses, and nucleotide bias, a prominent feature of third positions in this data set. Understanding the mechanisms which underlie third-position signal is a first step in applying appropriate models to accommodate the specific evolutionary processes involved in each lineage.

Moran N, Pierce N, Seger J. W.D. Hamilton, 1936-2000 - Obituary. Nature Medicine. 2000;6 :367-367. pierce_hamilton.pdf
Haig D, Pierce NE, Wilson EO. William Hamilton (1936-2000). Science. 2000;287 :2438-2438. haig_hamilton.pdf
Kitching R, Sheermeyer E, Jones R, Pierce NE. The Biology of Australian Butterflies (Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Vol. 6). Sydney: CSIRO Press; 1999 pp. 395. brabynew1999.pdf
Pierce NE, Nash DR. The Imperial Blue, Jalmenus evagoras (Lycaenidae). In: The Biology of Australian Butterflies (Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera). Vol. 6. Sydney: CSIRO Press ; 1999. pp. 277-316. 1999_pierce_and_nash.pdf
Craig CL, Hsu M, Kaplan D, Pierce NE. A comparison of the composition of silk proteins produced by spiders and insects. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. 1999;24 :109-118.Abstract

Proteins that are highly expressed and composed of amino acids that are costly to synthesize are likely to place a greater drain on an organism's energy resources than proteins that are composed of ingested amino acids or ones that are metabolically simple to produce. Silks are highly expressed proteins produced by all spiders and many insects. We compared the metabolic costs of silks spun by arthropods by calculating the amount of ATP required to produce their component amino acids. Although a definitive conclusion requires detailed information on the dietary pools of amino acids available to arthropods, on the basis of the central metabolic pathways, silks spun by herbivorous, Lepidoptera larvae require significantly less ATP to synthesize than the dragline silks spun by predatory spiders. While not enough data are available to draw a statistically based conclusion, comparison of homologous silks across ancestral and derived taxa of the Araneoidea seems to suggest an evolutionary trend towards reduced silk costs. However, comparison of the synthetic costs of dragline silks across all araneomorph spiders suggests a complicated evolutionary pattern that cannot be attributed to phylogenetic position alone. We propose that the diverse silk-producing systems of the araneoid spiders (including three types of protein glues and three types of silk fibroin), evolved through intra-organ competition and that taxon-specific differences in the composition of silks drawn from homologous glands may reflect limited or fluctuating amino acid availability. The different functional properties of spider silks may be a secondary result of selection acting on different polypeptide templates. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Axen AH, Pierce NE. Aggregation as a cost-reducing strategy for lycaenid larvae. Behavioral Ecology. 1998;9 :109-115.Abstract

If a mutualistic relationship entails providing services at a cost, selection will favor individuals that maximize the net benefits of the interaction and minimize the costs. Larvae of many species of lycaenid butterflies secrete nutritious food rewards to attending ants and, in return, receive protection against predators and parasitoids. Because ants typically recruit more workers to larger resources, by forming groups the larvae may ensure more reliable access to ants and thereby gain better protection. A further consequence of aggregating should be a change of the cost-benefit relationship for individual larvae. The larger the group, the smaller a single larva's influence will be on total ant density, which could lead to a smaller investment in secretion, thus reducing the per capita cost of cooperation. In this study, the influence of ant attendance, group size, and companion quality on larval investment was investigated. The interaction between the obligately ant-dependent lycaenid, Jalmenus evagoras, and its attendant Iridomyrmex ants was manipulated and the effect on larval secretion measured. As the level of ant attendance increased, the delivery of food rewards increased, both for solitary and for aggregated larvae. When aggregated, larvae provided less food rewards to ants than when solitary, and secretion rate decreased with increasing group size. Furthermore, larvae had lower secretion rates when paired with a bigger, more attractive larva than when paired with a smaller one. The considerable reduction in secretion rates for larvae in groups suggests that gaining protection at a lower secretion cost could be one factor that promotes aggregation in myrmecophilous lycaenids.

Yu DW, Pierce NE. A castration parasite of an ant-plant mutualism. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. 1998;265 :375-382.Abstract

Exploring the factors governing the maintenance and breakdown of cooperation between mutualists is an intriguing and enduring problem for evolutionary ecology, and symbioses between ants and plants can provide useful experimental models for such studies. Hundreds of tropical plant species have evolved structures to house and feed ants, and these ant-plant symbioses have long been considered classic examples of mutualism. Here, we report that the primary ant symbiont, Allomerus cf. demerarae, of the most abundant ant-plant found in south-east Peru, Cordia nodosa Lam., castrates its host plant. Allomerus workers protect new leaves and their associated domatia from herbivory, but destroy flowers, reducing fruit production to zero in most host plants. Castrated plants occupied by Allomerus provide more domatia for their associated ants than plants occupied by three species of Azteca ants that do not castrate their hosts. Allomerus colonies in larger plants have higher fecundity. As a consequence, Allomerus appears to benefit from its castration behaviour, to the detriment of C. nodosa. The C. nodosa-ant system exhibits none of the retaliatory or filtering mechanisms shown to stabilize cheating in other cooperative systems, and appears to persist because some of the plants, albeit a small;minority, are inhabited by the three species of truly mutualistic Azteca ants.

Townson SM, Chang BSW, Salcedo E, Chadwell LV, Pierce NE, Britt SG. Honeybee blue-and ultraviolet-sensitive opsins: Cloning, heterologous expression in Drosophila, and physiological characterization. Journal of Neuroscience. 1998;18 :2412-2422.Abstract

The honeybee (Apis mellifera) visual system contains three classes of retinal photoreceptor cells that are maximally sensitive to light at 440 nm (blue), 350 nm (ultraviolet), and 540 nm (green), We performed a PCR-based screen to identify the genes encoding the Apis blue- and ultraviolet (UV)-sensitive opsins, We obtained cDNAs that encode proteins having a high degree of sequence and structural similarity to other invertebrate and vertebrate visual pigments. The Apis blue opsin cDNA encodes a protein of 377 amino acids that is most closely related to other invertebrate visual pigments that are thought to be blue-sensitive. The UV opsin cDNA encodes a protein of 371 amino acids that is most closely related to the UV-sensitive Drosophila Rh3 and Rh4 opsins. To test whether these novel Apis opsin genes encode functional visual pigments and to determine their spectral properties, we expressed them in the R1-6 photoreceptor cells of blind ninaE mutant Drosophila, which lack the major opsin of the fly compound eye. We found that the expression of either the Apis blue- or UV-sensitive opsin in transgenic flies rescued the visual defect of ninaE mutants, indicating that both genes encode functional visual pigments. Spectral sensitivity measurements of these flies demonstrated that the blue and UV visual pigments are maximally sensitive to light at 439 and 353 nm, respectively. These maxima are in excellent agreement with those determined previously by single-cell recordings from Apis photoreceptor cells and provide definitive evidence that the genes described here encode visual pigments having blue and UV sensitivity.

Pierce NE. A scientist of great humanity. Insectarium. 1996;33 :3. pierce_humanity.pdf
Costa JT, Pierce NE. Social evolution in the Lepidoptera: ecological context and communication in larval societies. In: Social competition and cooperation in insects and arachnids, Volume II: Evolution of sociality. Vol. 2. ; 1996. pp. 407-442. 1996_costa_and_pierce.pdf
Chang BSW, Ayers D, Smith WC, Pierce NE. Cloning of the gene encoding honeybee long-wavelength rhodopsin: A new class of insect visual pigments. Gene. 1996;173 :215-219.Abstract

Rhodopsins (Rh), G-protein-coupled receptors with seven transmembrane (TM) helices, form the first step in visual transduction in most organisms. Although many long-wavelength (LW) vertebrate opsin sequences are known, less information is available for invertebrate LW sequences. By a combination of RT-PCR and cDNA library screening, we have cloned and sequenced the honeybee LW Rh gene. The deduced protein is composed of 378 amino acids (aa), appears to have seven TM regions, and contains many of the structures and key aa thought to be important for Rh function. Phylogenetic analysis of this sequence in relation to other invertebrate Rh reveals it to be a member of a new group of insect LW Rh.

Costa JT, McDonald JH, Pierce NE. The effect of ant association on the population genetics of the Australian Butterfly Jalmenus evagoras (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 1996;58 :287-306.Abstract

Populations of the myrmecophilous lycaenid Falmenus evagoras Donovan were assessed for genetic structure at three hierarchical spatial scales: sites, geographically-defined subpopulations, and subpopulations defined by species of mutualistic ant-associate. Estimates of Wright's F-ST generated from multilocus electrophoretic data revealed low, though significant, amounts of genetic structure. Most structure was observed at the level of geographic subpopulations, suggesting that adult butterflies do not exhibit preferential mating and oviposition along the lines of ant associate. The genetic structure data, together with estimates of Nei's genetic distance (D) for pairwise site and subpopulation comparisons, suggest that F. evagoras populations are spatially and temporally dynamic. These patterns are considered in the context of extinction and recolonization models. The extreme patchiness of F. evagoras populations stems from the stringent requirements of both host plant and host ant, contributing to an extinction/ recolonization process. We discuss the key parameters influencing genetic cohesion versus differentiation under an extinction/recolonization regime, including mode of butterfly dispersal, site turnover rate, and the effects of host dispersal and phenology. This system provides a model of population-level consequences of certain mutualistic interactions as well as of a class of patterns arising from an extinction/recolonization process. (C) 1996 The Linnean Society of London

Fiedler K, Seufert P, Pierce NE, Pearson JG, Baumgarten T. Exploitation of lycaenid-ant mutalisms by braconid parasitoids. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera. 1995;31 :153-168.Abstract

Abstract. Larvae of 17 Lycaenidae butterfly species from Europe, North America, South East Asia and Australia were observed to retain at least some of their adaptations related to myrmecophily even after parasitic braconid larvae have emerged from them. The myrmecophilous glandular organs and vibratory muscles of such larval carcasses remain functional for up to 8 days. The cuticle of lycaenid larvae contains extractable “adoption substances” which elicit antennal drumming in their tending ants. These adoption substances, as well, appear to persist in a functional state beyond parasitoid emergence, and the larval carcasses are hence tended much like healthy caterpillars. In all examples, the braconids may receive selective advantages through myrmecophily of their host larvae, instead of being suppressed by the ant guard. Interactions where parasitoids exploit the ant-mutualism of their lycaenid hosts have as yet been recorded only from the Apanteles group in the BraconidaeMicrogasterinae.

Pierce NE. Predatory and parasitic Lepidoptera: carnivores living on plants. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society. 1995;49 :412-453.Abstract

Moths and butterflies whose larvae do not feed on plants represent a decided minority slice of lepidopteran diversity, yet offer insights into the ecology and evolution of feeding habits. This paper summarizes the life histories of the known predatory and parasitic lepidopteran taxa, focusing in detail on current researchin the butterfly family Lycaenidae, a group disprotionately rich in aphytophagous feeders and myrmecophilous habits.

Evans JD, Pierce NE. Effects of diet quality and queen number on growth in leptothoracine ant colonies (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the New York Entomological Society. 1995;103 :91-99.Abstract

Laboratory experiments manipulating the diet of colonies of the facultatively polygynous ant, Leptothorax curvispinosus (Mayr), demonstrated that carbohydrates and protein have synergistic effects on egg numbers and brood production in colonies of this ant. Colonies receiving insect prey and sucrose grew significantly faster than colonies reared on unlimited supplies of either of these food types alone. This study also measured the effect of queen number on colony growth rates. Because the occurrence of multiple queens might affect colony growth only under certain nutritional conditions, polygynous colonies were reared in each of the three diet treatments. Queen number did not affect colony worker production in any of the three diet treatments; thus, individual queens in polygynous colonies produced far fewer workers per queen than did queens in monogynous colonies. There were no interaction effects between queen number and diet on colony growth. Several colonies which lacked morphologically distinct queens produced workers over the course of the experiment Using artificially established colonies of unmated workers, we found no evidence for parthenogenetic (thelytokous) reproduction in these colonies.