Genetic isolation through time: allochronic differentiation of a phenologically atypical population of the pine processionary moth

DCEA Group Author, Maria Rosa Santos de Paiva

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Allochronic speciation refers to a mode of sympatric speciation in which the differentiation of populations is primarily due to a phenological shift without habitat or host change. However, it has been so far rarely documented. The present paper reports on a plausible case of allochronic differentiation between sympatric populations of the pine processionary moth ( PPM), Thaumetopoea pityocampa. The PPM is a Mediterranean insect with winter larval development. A phenologically atypical population with early adult activity and summer larval development was detected 10 years ago in Portugal. Mitochondrial and nuclear sequences strongly suggest that the 'summer' individuals are closely related to the sympatric winter population, while microsatellite data show a reduction in allelic richness, a distortion of allelic frequencies and significant genetic differentiation. Moreover, monitoring of adult flights suggests that reproductive activity does not overlap between the summer and winter populations. We postulate that the summer population appeared after a sudden phenological shift of some individuals of the sympatric winter population, leading to a founder effect and complete reproductive isolation. Given that the individuals showing this new phenology are subject to different selection pressures, the observed allochronic differentiation may rapidly lead to deeper divergence.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)935-941
JournalProceedings Of The Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Issue number1612
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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