Hybridization studies on the host races of Eurosta Solidaginis: Implications for sympatric speciation

Timothy P. Craig, John D. Horner, Joanne K. Itami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


We studied the inheritance of survival ability in host-associated populations of the tephritid fly, Eurosta solidaginis, to test predictions of sympatric speciation models. Eurosta solidaginis induces galls on two species of goldenrod, Solidago altissima and S. gigantea. The host-associated populations have been hypothesized to be host races that originated in sympatry (Craig et al. 1993). We found evidence for disruptive selection for host use, which is a critical assumption of sympatric speciation models. Each host race had higher survival rates on their host plant than on the alternative host. F1 and backcross hybrids also had lower survival rates than the pure host-race flies on their host plant. Since assortative mating occurs due to host-plant preference (Craig et al. 1993) this would select for divergence in host preference. Low hybrid survival could have been due to strong genetic incompatibilities of the populations or due to host adaptation by each population. Strong genetic incompatibilities would result in poor survival on all host plants, while host adaptation could result in low overall survival with high hybrid survival on some host plants with particularly 'benign' environments. High survival of F1, F2, and backcross hybrids on some plant genotypes in some years supported the host adaptation hypothesis. F1 flies mated and oviposited normally and produced viable F2 and backcross hybrids indicating gene flow is possible between the host races. A few flies developed and emerged on the alternative host plant. This demonstrates that genes necessary to utilize the alternative host exist in both host races. This could have facilitated the origin of one of the populations via a host shift from the ancestral host. The inheritance of survival ability appears to be an autosomal trait. We did not find evidence that survival ability was maternally influenced or sex linked.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1552-1560
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Eurosta solidaginis
  • Gall
  • Host race
  • Hybrids
  • Solidago altissima
  • Solidago gigantea
  • Sympatric speciation


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