- Martin Reichard
Research Item (9)
1. The survival of affiliate (dependent) species in a changing environment is determined by the interactions between the affiliate species and their available hosts. However, the patterns of spatial and temporal changes in host compatibility are often unknown despite host shifts having direct impact on the persistence of local populations. Bivalves of the order Unionida (freshwater mussels) are a functionally important but declining group of affiliate species, which are dependent on freshwater fish to host their parasitic larvae. The role of local adaptations and host fish resistance in shaping freshwater mussel host relationships remains poorly understood. 2. We used an invasive East Asian bivalve, Sinanodonta woodiana (Lea 1834), and its potential host fishes to study the mechanisms shaping fish-mussel coevolution using a combination of laboratory cross-exposure methods and field-collected data. We tested whether generalist host use of S. woodiana is pertinent to native host species, with special attention to bitterling fishes (Acheilognathinae) that are characterized by a mutual association with freshwater mussels. We also tested whether the pattern of the parasite-host association varies temporally (between areas of ancient and recent sympatry) and spatially (at a sub-basin level in its native range). 3. Results revealed the ability of S. woodiana to widely exploit non-bitterling host fishes at a global scale. In contrast, the ability of S. woodiana to exploit closely associated bitterling fishes was low in its native range (with ancient sympatry). In areas of recent sympatry (non-native S. woodiana range in Europe), S. woodiana glochidia were demonstrated to readily parasitize local, evolutionarily naive bitterling species at high density. 4. The results of a population-level experiment with three native populations of S. woodiana and rose bitterling, Rhodeus ocellatus, from various sub-basins of the River Yangtze confirmed that mussel populations vary in their compatibility with particular host populations. However, there was no evidence of population-specific adaptive coevolution. 5. This study provides the first evidence for a role of fish counter-adaptations against freshwater mussel glochidia, and documents the importance of population-level variation in shaping compatibility between glochidia and their host fishes. This outcome can inform predictions on the impact of biotic homogenization on endangered affiliate species in general and freshwater mussels in particular.
A contemporary outcome of dynamic host–parasite coevolution can be driven by the adaptation of a parasite to exploit its hosts at the population and species levels (parasite specialisation) or by local host adaptations leading to greater host resistance to sympatric parasite populations (host resistance). We tested the predominance of these two scenarios using cross-infection experiments with two geographically distant populations of the rose bitterling, Rhodeus ocellatus, a fish brood parasite of freshwater mussels, and four populations of their mussel hosts (two Anodonta woodiana and two Unio douglasiae populations) with varying degrees of geographic sympatry and local coexistence. Our data support predictions for host resistance at the species level but no effect of local coexistence between specific populations. Rhodeus ocellatus showed a preference for allopatric host populations, irrespective of host species. Host mussel response, in terms of ejection of R. ocellatus eggs, was stronger in the more widespread and abundant host species (A. woodiana) and this response tended to be higher in sympatric populations. These outcomes provide support for the importance of host resistance in bitterling oviposition-site decisions, demonstrating that host choice by R. ocellatus is adaptive by minimizing egg ejections. These findings imply that R. ocellatus, and potentially other bitterling species, may benefit from exploiting novel hosts, which may not possess appropriate adaptive responses to parasitism.
- Jan 2017
Specialization on different host plants can promote evolutionary diversification of herbivorous insects. Work on pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum) has contributed significantly to the understanding of this process, demonstrating that populations associated with different host plants exhibit performance trade-offs across hosts, show adaptive host choice and genetic differentiation, and possess different communities of bacterial endosymbionts. Populations specialized on different secondary host plants during the parthenogenetic summer generations are also described for the black bean aphid (Aphis fabae complex) and are usually treated as different (morphologically cryptic) subspecies. In contrast to pea aphids, however, host choice and mate choice are decoupled in black bean aphids, because populations from different summer hosts return to the same primary host plant to mate and lay overwintering eggs. This could counteract evolutionary divergence, and it is currently unknown to what extent black bean aphids using different summer hosts are indeed differentiated. We addressed this question by microsatellite genotyping and endosymbiont screening of black bean aphids collected in summer from the goosefoot Chenopodium album (subspecies A. f. fabae) and from thistles of the genus Cirsium (subspecies A. f. cirsiiacanthoides) across numerous sites in Switzerland and France. Our results show clearly that aphids from Cirsium and Chenopodium show strong and geographically consistent genetic differentiation, and that they differ in their frequencies of infection with particular endosymbionts. The dependence on a joint winter host has thus not prevented the evolutionary divergence into summer host-adapted populations that appear to have evolved mechanisms of reproductive isolation within a common mating habitat. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Background: Insect parasitoids are under strong selection to overcome their hosts' defences. In aphids, resistance to parasitoids is largely determined by the presence or absence of protective endosymbionts such as Hamiltonella defensa. Hence, parasitoids may become locally adapted to the prevalence of this endosymbiont in their host populations. To address this, we collected isofemale lines of the aphid parasitoid Lysiphlebus fabarum from 17 sites in Switzerland and France, at which we also estimated the frequency of infection with H. defensa as well as other bacterial endosymbionts in five important aphid host species. The parasitoids' ability to overcome H. defensa-mediated resistance was then quantified by estimating their parasitism success on a single aphid clone (Aphis fabae fabae) that was either uninfected or experimentally infected with one of three different isolates of H. defensa. Results: The five aphid species (Aphis fabae fabae, A. f. cirsiiacanthoides, A. hederae, A. ruborum, A. urticata) differed strongly in the relative frequencies of infection with different bacterial endosymbionts, but there was also geographic variation in symbiont prevalence. Specifically, the frequency of infection with H. defensa ranged from 22 to 47 % when averaged across species. Parasitoids from sites with a high prevalence of H. defensa tended to be more infective on aphids possessing H. defensa, but this relationship was not significant, thus providing no conclusive evidence that L. fabarum is locally adapted to the occurrence of H. defensa. On the other hand, we observed a strong interaction between parasitoid line and H. defensa isolate on parasitism success, indicative of a high specificity of symbiont-conferred resistance. Conclusions: This study is the first, to our knowledge, to test for local adaptation of parasitoids to the frequency of defensive symbionts in their hosts. While it yielded useful information on the occurrence of facultative endosymbionts in several important host species of L. fabarum, it provided no clear evidence that parasitoids from sites with a high prevalence of H. defensa are better able to overcome H. defensa-conferred resistance. The strong genetic specificity in their interaction suggests that it may be more important for parasitoids to adapt to the particular strains of H. defensa in their host populations than to the general prevalence of this symbiont, and it highlights the important role symbionts can play in mediating host-parasitoid coevolution.
In some taxa, males perform multiple ejaculations, which may function in sperm competition or in maintaining a baseline density of spermatozoa in the female reproductive tract to ensure fertilization, a process that has been termed 'topping up'. We investigated the function of multiple ejaculations in two species of bitterling, the European bitterling (Rhodeus amarus) and Chinese rose bitterling (Rhodeus ocellatus). Bitterling oviposit in living freshwater mussels, with fertilization taking place within the mussel gill cavity. Thus, although fertilization is external, the mussel is analogous to the female reproductive tract in an internally fertilizing species. We measured the frequency of ejaculations and mussel inspections by individual males of two bitterling species in 28 replicated mesocosms and examined focal male responses to rival ejaculations and the presence of females in spawning condition. We used a model of ejaculatory behaviour to simulate the temporal abundance of spermatozoa in mussels. Male R. amarus exhibited high rates of ejaculation and inspection of the siphons of mussels and increased their ejaculation rate in response to the presence of females in spawning condition. Rhodeus ocellatus showed lower overall rates of ejaculation, but significantly elevated ejaculation rate in response to rival ejaculations. The ejaculatory strategy of R. amarus is one that maintains a minimum level of spermatozoa in mussels, which is elevated when the probability of oviposition increases. In contrast, R. ocellatus engages more directly in sperm competition with rivals. We discuss these results in the context of the function of multiple ejaculations and male mating tactics.
- Feb 2014
Host-parasitoid interactions may lead to strong reciprocal selection for traits involved in host defense and parasitoid counter-defense. In aphids, individuals harboring the facultative bacterial endosymbiont Hamiltonella defensa exhibit enhanced resistance to parasitoid wasps. We used an experimental evolution approach to investigate the ability of the parasitoid wasp Lysiphlebus fabarum to adapt to the presence of H. defensa in its aphid host Aphis fabae. Sexual populations of the parasitoid were exposed for eleven generations to a single clone of A. fabae, either free of H. defensa or harboring artificial infections with three different isolates of H. defensa. Parasitoids adapted rapidly to the presence of H. defensa in their hosts, but this adaptation was in part specific to the symbiont isolate they were evolving against and did not result in an improved infectivity on all symbiont-protected hosts. Comparisons of life history traits among the evolved lines of parasitoids did not reveal any evidence for costs of adaptation to H. defensa in terms of correlated responses that could constrain such adaptation. These results show that parasitoids readily evolve counter-adaptations to heritable defensive symbionts of their hosts, but that different symbiont strains impose different evolutionary challenges. The symbionts thus mediate the host-parasite interaction by inducing line-by-line genetic specificity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
- Nov 2012
Coevolution between hosts and parasites may promote the maintenance of genetic variation in both antagonists by negative frequency-dependence if the host–parasite interaction is genotype-specific. Here we tested for specificity in the interaction between parasitoids (Lysiphlebus fabarum) and aphid hosts (Aphis fabae) that are protected by a heritable defensive endosymbiont, the γ-proteobacterium Hamiltonella defensa. Previous studies reported a lack of genotype specificity between unprotected aphids and parasitoids, but suggested that symbiont-conferred resistance might exhibit a higher degree of specificity. Indeed, in addition to ample variation in host resistance as well as parasitoid infectivity, we found a strong aphid clone-by-parasitoid line interaction on the rates of successful parasitism. This genotype specificity appears to be mediated by H. defensa, highlighting the important role that endosymbionts can play in host–parasite coevolution.
- Aug 2010
Root-feeding insects can affect the performance of aboveground insect herbivores when they are forced to feed on the same host plant. Here we explored whether the oviposition behaviour of two closely related herbivorous species (cabbage butterflies; Lepidoptera: Pieridae) is influenced by root-feeding insects, when they are given the chance to choose between host plants with and without root herbivores. Considering that egg load is an important physiological factor influencing the foraging behaviour of insects, we also examined whether root-feeding insects differentially influence oviposition preference in butterflies with low and high egg loads. Oviposition preference in both butterfly species with low and high egg loads was monitored using host plants with and without root herbivores. To ascertain the status of butterfly age with low and high egg loads, the oviducts of a separate group of butterflies was dissected to record the number of immature and mature eggs in butterflies of various ages. Pieris brassicae L. butterflies with low egg loads preferred plants without root herbivores over plants with root herbivores, and laid more egg clutches on the leaves of plants that were not attacked by root herbivores. Butterflies with comparatively high egg loads also selected a larger proportion of plants without root herbivores, but laid a similar number of egg clutches on the plant shoots independent of the presence or absence of root herbivores belowground. Independent of the age and egg load, Pieris rapae L. butterflies selected a larger proportion of plants not attacked by root herbivores to lay eggs, but the number of eggs laid was similar in plants with and without root herbivores. This study shows that belowground insects can influence behavioural decisions of aboveground insect herbivores. Interestingly, the strength of these interactions depends on the physiological state of the insects which is probably correlated with their perception of environmental quality.