Ethier, Jessica and Despland, Emma
Effects of polymorphic melanism and larval diet on life history traits of Malacosoma disstria moths.
Journal of Insect Physiology
- Accepted Version
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jinsphys.2011.09.018
In this study we investigated the presence and possible genetic basis of polymorphic melanism in the forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) moth. Adult moths were classified into pattern-based phenotypes and wing darkness was measured to quantify the degree of melanization. We found that two distinct phenotypes, melanic and simple, are present in these moths. Although the full melanic phenotype is sex-limited to males, it is partially expressed in females. We also provide support for the theory that the melanic allele is autosomal and dominant. The effects of larval diet quality on the survival, development and wing melanization of each phenotype were studied by rearing larvae on the foliage of either a primary or secondary host. Diet quality did not differentially affect the two phenotypes; however, melanic males were found to be smaller than simple males regardless of larval diet. Such inherent developmental differences between the two phenotypes could have important consequences for the frequencies of the two morphs.
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