Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Nov 17;106(46):19426-31. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909424106. Epub 2009 Oct 29.

Ecologically dependent postmating isolation between sympatric host forms of Neochlamisus bebbianae leaf beetles.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37235-1634, USA.


Ecological speciation is the promotion of reproductive isolation via the divergent adaptation of populations to alternative environments. A prediction peculiar to ecological speciation is that hybrids between such populations should be adapted poorly to parental environments, yielding reduced fitness and postmating isolation. However, F(1) analyses alone cannot demonstrate that ecological ("extrinsic") factors contribute to such isolation. Rather, this requires documenting a "switch" in the relative fitnesses of reciprocal backcrosses between environments. Specifically, each backcross should exhibit higher fitness in the environment of its pure parent, with which it shares the most genes, including environment-specific ones. In contrast, because genetic proportions are expected to be similar for all backcrosses ( approximately (3/4) from one parental type and approximately (1/4) from the other), the more general genetic incompatibilities responsible for "intrinsic" isolation predict no such environment-specific fitness switches. Thus, although intrinsic isolation may contribute to the fitness reduction and variation underlying such patterns, it offers an insufficient explanation for them. Here, we present a quantitative genetic "backcross" analysis of sympatric Neochlamisus bebbianae leaf beetle populations adapted to maple versus willow host plants. Results statistically supported ecological speciation predictions, notably the switch in relative fitness for backcross types, the expected rank order of cross type fitnesses, and appreciable extrinsic isolation. We additionally documented genetic variation in host-associated fitness, ruled out nongenetic maternal effects, and discuss the maintenance of ecological differentiation in sympatry. In summary, our study provides a rare and strongly supported demonstration of genetically based, ecologically dependent postmating isolation during ecological speciation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center