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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 23;110(17):6919-24. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1220060110. Epub 2013 Mar 18.

Independent divergence of 13- and 17-y life cycles among three periodical cicada lineages.

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Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


The evolution of 13- and 17-y periodical cicadas (Magicicada) is enigmatic because at any given location, up to three distinct species groups (Decim, Cassini, Decula) with synchronized life cycles are involved. Each species group is divided into one 13- and one 17-y species with the exception of the Decim group, which contains two 13-y species-13-y species are Magicicada tredecim, Magicicada neotredecim, Magicicada tredecassini, and Magicicada tredecula; and 17-y species are Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini, and Magicicada septendecula. Here we show that the divergence leading to the present 13- and 17-y populations differs considerably among the species groups despite the fact that each group exhibits strikingly similar phylogeographic patterning. The earliest divergence of extant lineages occurred ∼4 Mya with one branch forming the Decim species group and the other subsequently splitting 2.5 Mya to form the Cassini and Decula species groups. The earliest split of extant lineages into 13- and 17-y life cycles occurred in the Decim lineage 0.5 Mya. All three species groups experienced at least one episode of life cycle divergence since the last glacial maximum. We hypothesize that despite independent origins, the three species groups achieved their current overlapping distributions because life-cycle synchronization of invading congeners to a dominant resident population enabled escape from predation and population persistence. The repeated life-cycle divergences supported by our data suggest the presence of a common genetic basis for the two life cycles in the three species groups.

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