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Temporal habitat variability and the maintenance of sex in host populations of the pea aphid

Abstract : The evolutionary maintenance of sex, despite competition from asexual reproduction, has long intrigued the evolutionary biologists owing to its numerous apparent short-term costs. In aphids, winter climate is expected to determine the maintenance of sexual lineages in the high latitude zones owing to their exclusive ability to produce frost-resistant eggs. However, diverse reproductive modes may coexist at a local scale where climatic influence is counteracted by microgeographical factors. In this study, we tested the influence of local habitat characteristics on regional coexistence of reproductive modes in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum. In the laboratory, the induction of sexual morph production of many pea aphid genotypes from the local fields of annual (pea and faba bean) and perennial (alfalfa and red clover) crops in Western France indicated that A. pisum lineages from annual crops had a significantly higher investment in sexual reproduction than A. pisum lineages from the perennial hosts. We propose that temporal habitat variability exerts a selective pressure to maintain the sexual reproduction in A. pisum. The ecological and evolutionary consequences of the association between the mode of reproduction and the host population on gene flow restriction and on ecological specialization are discussed
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Adrien Frantz, Manuel Plantegenest, Jean-Christophe Simon. Temporal habitat variability and the maintenance of sex in host populations of the pea aphid. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2006, 273, pp.2887-2891. ⟨10.1098/rspb.2006.3665⟩. ⟨hal-02660124⟩

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