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Sympatric host races of the European corn borer: adaptation to host plants and hybrid performance

Abstract : The European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis, is a major pest of maize crops. In Europe, two sympatric host races are found: one feeds on maize (Zea mays) and the other mainly on mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). The two host races are genetically differentiated, seldom crossing in the laboratory or in the field, and females preferentially lay eggs on their native host species. We conducted two independent experiments, in field and greenhouse conditions, to determine whether the two host races are locally adapted to their host species. The effect of larval density and the performance of hybrids were also investigated. Despite some differences in overall larval feeding performance, both experiments revealed consistent patterns of local adaptation for survival and for larval weight in males. In females the same trend was observed but with weaker statistical support. F1 hybrids did not seem to be disadvantaged compared with the two parental races. Overall, our results showed that both host races are physiologically adapted to their native host. The fitness trade-off between the two host plants provides a potential driving force for ecological speciation in this species
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Vincent Calcagno, Yan Thomas, Denis Bourguet. Sympatric host races of the European corn borer: adaptation to host plants and hybrid performance. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Wiley, 2007, 20 (5), pp.1720-1729. ⟨10.1111/j.1420-9101.2007.01391.x⟩. ⟨hal-02663534⟩

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