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Host-plant adaptation as a driver of incipient speciation in the fall armyworm ( Spodoptera frugiperda )

Abstract : Background Divergent selection on host-plants is one of the main evolutionary forces driving ecological speciation in phytophagous insects. The ecological speciation might be challenging in the presence of gene flow and assortative mating because the direction of divergence is not necessarily the same between ecological selection (through host-plant adaptation) and assortative mating. The fall armyworm (FAW), a major lepidopteran pest species, is composed of two sympatric strains, corn and rice strains, named after two of their preferred host-plants. These two strains have been hypothesized to undergo incipient speciation, based on ( i ) several lines of evidence encompassing both pre- and post-zygotic reproductive isolation, and ( ii ) the presence of a substantial level of genetic differentiation. Even though the status of these two strains has been established a long time ago, it is still yet to be found whether these two strains indeed exhibit a marked level of genetic differentiation from a large number of genomic loci. Here, we analyzed whole genome sequences from 56 FAW individuals either collected from pasture grasses (a part of the favored host range of the rice strain) or corn to assess the role of host-plant adaptation in incipient speciation. Results Principal component analysis of whole genome data shows that the pattern of divergence in the fall armyworm is predominantly explained by the genetic differentiation associated with host-plants. The level of genetic differentiation between corn and rice strains is particularly marked in the Z chromosome. We identified one autosomal locus and two Z chromosome loci targeted by selective sweeps specific to rice strain and corn strain, respectively. The autosomal locus has both increased D XY and F ST while the Z chromosome loci had decreased D XY and increased F ST . Conclusion These results show that the FAW population structure is dominated by the genetic differentiation between corn and rice strains. This differentiation involves divergent selection targeting at least three loci, which include a locus potentially causing reproductive isolation. Taken together, these results suggest the evolutionary scenario that host-plant speciation is a driver of incipient speciation in the fall armyworm.
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Submitted on : Thursday, November 24, 2022 - 6:06:56 PM
Last modification on : Friday, November 25, 2022 - 8:33:32 AM


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Estelle Fiteni, Karine Durand, Sylvie Gimenez, Robert L. Meagher Jr., Fabrice Legeai, et al.. Host-plant adaptation as a driver of incipient speciation in the fall armyworm ( Spodoptera frugiperda ). BMC Ecology and Evolution, 2022, 22, pp.133. ⟨10.1101/2022.09.30.510290⟩. ⟨hal-03813221⟩



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