Female butterflies adapt and allocate their progeny to the host-plant quality of their own larval experience

Cahenzli, Fabian and Wenk, Barbara and Erhardt, A.. (2015) Female butterflies adapt and allocate their progeny to the host-plant quality of their own larval experience. Ecology, 96 (7). pp. 1966-1973.

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Recent studies with diverse taxa have shown that parents can utilize their experience of the environment to adapt their offspring's phenotype to the same environmental conditions. Thus, offspring would then perform best under environmental conditions experienced by their parents due to transgenerational phenotypic plasticity. Such an effect has been dubbed transgenerational acclimatization. However, evidence that parents can subsequently ensure the appropriate environmental conditions in order that offspring benefit from transgenerational acclimatization has never been demonstrated. We reared Pieris rapae larvae in the parental generation on high-nitrogen and low-nitrogen host plants, and reared the offspring (F-1) of both treatments again on high- and low-nitrogen plants. Furthermore, we tested if females prefer to oviposit on high- or low-nitrogen host plants in two-way choice tests. We here show not only that females adapt their offspring's phenotype to the host-plant quality that they themselves experienced, but that females also mainly oviposit on the host quality to which they adapt their offspring. Moreover, effects of larval host plant on oviposition preference of females increased across two generations in F-1-females acclimatized to low-nitrogen host plants, showing an adaptive host shift from one generation to the next. These findings may have profound implications for host-race formation and sympatric speciation.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Botanik (Erhardt)
UniBasel Contributors:Erhardt, Andreas
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Ecological Society of America
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:13 Sep 2016 06:27
Deposited On:13 Sep 2016 06:27

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