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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GENETICS OF HOST SPECIFICITY AND CLIMATIC ADAPTATION IN BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS INTRODUCED FOR CONTROL OF ARTHROPOD PESTS AND WEEDS

Location: Beneficial Insects Introduction Research

Title: Genetics of Host Range in Lepidoptera

Authors
item Hopper, Keith
item Oppenheim, Sara - NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Molecular Biology and Genetics of Lepidoptera
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 30, 2008
Publication Date: September 10, 2009
Citation: Hopper, K.R., Oppenheim, S.J. 2009. GENETICS OF HOST RANGE IN LEPIDOPTERA. In: Goldsmith, M., Marec, F., Editors. Molecular Biology and Genetics of Lepidoptera. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. 195-217.

Interpretive Summary: The genetic basis of complex, ecologically relevant traits is not well known for any organism. The question is particularly compelling where closely-related species have diverged radically in their adaptation to the environment. Differences in host plant use among Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) often provide such cases: although close relatives tend to use similar hosts, there are many examples of species within the same genus that differ widely in host range. In several systems, work is underway to identify the genetic changes that underlie shifts in host use. While such changes may or may not contribute to the well-documented species diversity of plant-feeding insects, understanding the genetic architecture of host range is fundamental to understanding the evolution of Lepidoptera. Improved understanding of the genetics of host range is crucial for applied reasons as well: both the safe practice of biological control and the breeding of plants with persistent resistance to pests demand greater understanding of the genetics of host range. Understanding the evolution of host range in Lepidoptera will require knowledge of its genetic architecture, i.e., which genes are involved, how these genes interact, and how much change in each gene is needed for a change in host range. We review what is known about the genetics of host range in Lepidoptera, discuss the biology of host range and its implications for genetic architecture, and suggest promising lines of research.

Technical Abstract: The genetic basis of complex, ecologically relevant traits is not well known for any organism. The question is particularly compelling where closely-related species have diverged radically in their adaptation to the environment. Differences in host plant use among moths and butterflies often provide such cases: although close relatives tend to use similar hosts, there are many examples of congeneric species that differ widely in host range. We review what is known about the genetics of host range in Lepidoptera, discuss the biology of host range and its implications for genetic architecture, and suggest promising lines of research. Although differences in host range between closely related species and host races appear to have a relatively simple architecture, this conclusion awaits corroboration by more detailed analysis of the actual genes involved. Differences in sequence and expression of detoxification enzymes and chemoreceptor proteins have been implicated in differences in host range, but their full roles remain to be determined. Further advances in our understanding will require much larger experiments and new approaches. Crosses between closely related species or races that differ in host range provide the strong phenotypic differences and distinct molecular markers that together greatly aid in the identification of the genes responsible for differences in host range. Furthermore, it is exactly these differences in host range between recently diverged populations and species that are most intriguing. The most promising systems for this approach have involved species and populations in the genera EUPHYDRYAS, HELICOVERPA, HELIOTHIS, and PAPILIO.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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