Phylogenetic relationships of fig wasps pollinating functionally dioecious Ficus based on mitochondrial DNA sequences and morphology

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Abstract

The obligate mutualism between pollinating fig wasps in the family Agaonidae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea) and Ficus species (Moraceae) is often regarded as an example of co-evolution but little is known about the history of the interaction, and understanding the origin of functionally dioecious fig pollination has been especially difficult. The phylogenetic relationships of fig wasps pollinating functionally dioecious Ficus were inferred from mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase gene sequences (mtDNA) and morphology. Separate and combined analyses indicated that the pollinators of functionally dioecious figs are not monophyletic. However, pollinator relationships were generally congruent with host phylogeny and support a revised classification of Ficus. Ancestral changes in pollinator ovipositor length also correlated with changes in fig breeding systems. In particular, the relative elongation of the ovipositor was associated with the repeated loss of functionally dioecious pollination. The concerted evolution of interacting morphologies may bias estimates of phylogeny based on female head characters, but homoplasy is not so strong in other morphological traits. The lesser phylogenetic utility of morphology than of mtDNA is not due to rampant convergence in morphology but rather to the greater number of potentially informative characters in DNA sequence data; patterns of nucleotide substitution also limit the utility of mtDNA findings. Nonetheless, inferring the ancestral associations of fig pollinators from the best-supported phylogeny provided strong evidence of host conservatism in this highly specialized mutualism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-267
Number of pages25
JournalSystematic Biology
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2001

Keywords

  • Coevolution
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Mutualism
  • Parametric bootstrapping
  • Pollination

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