Intra-Population Genetic Variation in the Temporal Pattern of Egg Maturation in a Parasitoid Wasp
by Eric Wajnberg, Christine Curty, Mark Jervis
Parasitoid wasps are taxonomically and biologically extremely diverse. A conceptual framework has recently been developed for understanding life-history evolution and diversification in these animals, and it has confirmed that each of two linked life-history traits – the mode of larval development and the temporal pattern of egg maturation – acts as an organiser of life-history. The framework has been predicated on the assumption that there exists sufficient genetic variation in the latter trait to allow it to be shaped by natural selection. Focusing on the parasitoid wasp Trichogramma brassicae, our aim was to test the validity of that assumption, using established quantitative genetic methods. We demonstrate the existence of a statistically significant degree of intra-population polygenic variation in the temporal pattern of egg production within the wasp population we studied. Furthermore, our results, together with published data on clinal variation in the egg maturation pattern of another species, suggest that intra-specific evolutionary shifts in the temporal pattern of egg maturation of parasitoid wasps can result from a change in allocation to egg production either before, or very shortly after adult emergence, without there being an accompanying change in lifetime fecundity. As well as opening new avenues of research into the reproductive strategies, behaviour, community organisation and biological control potential of parasitoid wasps, this discovery also has implications for studies of life-history evolution and diversification in insects generally.
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