The mechanism by which a clock gene pleiotropically controlling life history and behavioral traits causes reproductive isolation is explained using a model species, the melon fly, Bactrocera cucurbitae (Coquillett) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Melon flies mate once a day, at dusk. The population selected for life history traits exhibits correlated responses in the time of mating during the day. For example, the fly populations selected for faster (slower) development have an earlier (later) time of mating. A circadian rhythm controls the time of mating. The circadian periods in constant darkness were about 22h in lines selected for a short developmental period and about 31h in lines selected for a long developmental period. The data on crosses between the selected lines indicated that the developmental period is controlled by a polygene, whereas the circadian period may be controlled by a single clock gene. These results suggest a clock gene pleiotropically controls developmental and circadian periods in the melon fly. Reproductive isolation may often evolve as an indirect (pleiotropic) consequence of adaptation to different environments or habitats. For example, niches that are temporally or seasonally offset can select organisms with different developmental characteristics. These developmental differences can inadvertently cause reproductive isolation by a variety of means including shifts in mating activity patterns. The difference in time of mating between populations selected for developmental period translated into significant prezygotic isolation, as measured by mate choice tests. If the mating time between populations differed more than 1h, the isolation index was significantly higher than zero. These findings indicate that premating isolation can be established by a pleiotropic effect of a clock gene. There are many examples in which the difference in timing of reproduction prevents gene flow between populations, such as the egg spawning time in marine organisms, the flowering time in angiosperms, and the time of mating in insects. In such organisms, if genetic correlations between circadian rhythm and reproductive traits exist, multifarious divergent selection for life history traits would often accelerate the evolution of reproductive isolation through clock genes. Natural populations may diverge in reproduction time through drift, direct natural selection for time of reproduction, or as a by-product effect of genetic correlations. In any case, clock genes are keys in reproductive isolation.
- Bactrocera cucurbitae
- Circadian rhythm
- Genetic correlation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics