60 Million years of co-divergence in the fig-wasp symbiosis

Nina Rønsted, George D. Weiblen, James M. Cook, Nicolas Salamin, Carlos A. Machado, Vincent Savolainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

212 Scopus citations


Figs (Ficus; ca 750 species) and fig wasps (Agaoninae) are obligate mutualists: all figs are pollinated by agaonines that feed exclusively on figs. This extraordinary symbiosis is the most extreme example of specialization in a plant-pollinator interaction and has fuelled much speculation about co-divergence. The hypothesis that pollinator specialization led to the parallel diversification of fig and pollinator lineages (co-divergence) has so far not been tested due to the lack of robust and comprehensive phylogenetic hypotheses for both partners. We produced and combined the most comprehensive molecular phylogenetic trees to date with fossil data to generate independent age estimates for fig and pollinator lineages, using both non-parametric rate smoothing and penalized likelihood dating methods. Molecular dating of ten pairs of interacting lineages provides an unparalleled example of plant-insect co-divergence over a geological time frame spanning at least 60 million years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2593-2599
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1581
StatePublished - Dec 22 2005


  • Agaoninae
  • Co-divergence
  • Co-speciation
  • Ficus
  • Molecular dating
  • Phylogeny


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