Comparative population genetic structures and local adaptation of two mutualists

B. Anderson, I. Olivieri, M. Lourmas, Barbara Stewart

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Similar patterns of dispersal and gene flow between closely associated organisms may promote local adaptation and coevolutionary processes. We compare the genetic structures of the two species of a plant genus (Roridula gorgonias and R. dentata) and their respective obligately associated hemipteran mutualists (Pameridea roridulae and P. marlothi) using allozymes. In addition, we determine whether genetic structure is related to differences in host choice by Pameridea. Allozyme variation was found to be very structured among plant populations but less so among hemipteran populations. Strong genetic structuring among hemipteran populations was only evident when large distances isolated the plant populations on which they live. Although genetic distances among plant populations were correlated with genetic distances among hemipteran populations, genetic distances of both plants and hemipterans were better correlated with geographic distance. Because Roridula and Pameridea have different scales of gene flow, adaptation at the local population level is unlikely. However, the restricted gene flow of both plants and hemipterans could enable adaptation to occur at a regional level. In choice experiments, the hemipteran (Pameridea) has a strong preference for its carnivorous host plant (Roridula) above unrelated host plants. Pameridea also prefers its host species to its closely related sister species. Specialization at the specific level is likely to reinforce cospeciation processes in this mutualism. However, Pameridea does not exhibit intraspecific preferences toward plants from their natal populations above plants from isolated, non-natal populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1730-1747
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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