Experimental evidence for heritable reproductive time in 2 allochronic populations of pine processionary moth

Manuela Branco, Maria Rosa Paiva, Helena Maria Santos, Christian Burban, Carole Kerdelhué

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Phenology allows organisms to overcome seasonally variable conditions through life-cycle adjustment. Changes in phenology can drastically modify the evolutionary trajectory of a population, while a shift in the reproductive time may cause allochronic differentiation. The hypothesis of heritable reproductive time was experimentally tested, by studying a unique population of the pine processionary moth Thaumetopoea pityocampa (Den. & Schiff.) which has a shifted phenology, and however co-occurs with the typical population following the classical life cycle. When populations of both types were reared under controlled conditions, the reproductive time was maintained asynchronous, as observed in the field. The shifted population was manipulated in the laboratory to reproduce later than usual, yet the offspring emerged in the next year at the expected dates thus “coming back” to the usual cycle. Hybrids from crosses performed between the 2 populations showed an intermediate phenology. From the emergence times of parents and offspring, a high heritability of the reproductive time (h = 0.76) was observed. The offspring obtained from each type of cross was genetically characterized using microsatellite markers. Bayesian clustering analysis confirmed that hybrids can be successfully identified and separated from the parental genetic classes by genotyping. Findings support the hypothesis that, for this particular population, incipient allochronic speciation is due to a heritable shift in the reproductive time that further causes assortative mating and might eventually cause ecological adaptation/maladaptation in response to environmental changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-335
Number of pages11
JournalInsect Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • allochronic speciation
  • experimental crossings
  • heritability
  • phenology
  • reproductive isolation
  • Thaumetopoea pityocampa


Dive into the research topics of 'Experimental evidence for heritable reproductive time in 2 allochronic populations of pine processionary moth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this