Pollen feeding, resource allocation and the evolution of chemical defence in passion vine butterflies

  title={Pollen feeding, resource allocation and the evolution of chemical defence in passion vine butterflies},
  author={M{\'a}rcio Zik{\'a}n Cardoso and Lawrence E. Gilbert},
  journal={Journal of Evolutionary Biology},
Evolution of pollen feeding in Heliconius has allowed exploitation of rich amino acid sources and dramatically reorganized life‐history traits. In Heliconius, eggs are produced mainly from adult‐acquired resources, leaving somatic development and maintenance to larva effort. This innovation may also have spurred evolution of chemical defence via amino acid‐derived cyanogenic glycosides. In contrast, nonpollen‐feeding heliconiines must rely almost exclusively on larval‐acquired resources for… 

Pollen-feeding delays reproductive senescence and maintains toxicity of Heliconius butterflies

There is an age-specific and sex-specific effect of pollen-feeding on butterfly weight, with both the sugar-only and amino-acid supplement diets reducing the weight of old females, but not young females, or males of any age.

The evolution of adult pollen feeding did not alter postembryonic growth in Heliconius butterflies

The results provide a framework for studies aiming to link innovations in adult Heliconius to altered selection regimes and developmental programs in early life stages, and discuss how this result may fit with patterns of nitrogen allocation, the benefits of nitrogenous stores, and developmental limitations on growth.

Evolutionary and ecological processes influencing chemical defense variation in an aposematic and mimetic Heliconius butterfly

This work studied intraspecific variation in de novo biosynthesized cyanogenic toxicity and its potential ecological and evolutionary sources in wild populations of Heliconius erato along environmental gradients, in common-garden broods and with feeding treatments, and highlights the extensive variation and potential for adaptive evolution in defense traits for aposematic and mimetic species.

Condition dependence in biosynthesized chemical defenses of an aposematic and mimetic Heliconius butterfly

The results indicate that toxicity level of adult butterflies may be dependent on individual condition, influenced by genetic background or earlier conditions, with maternal effects as one strong candidate mechanism.

Pollen feeding in Heliconius butterflies: the singular evolution of an adaptive suite

Current knowledge of pollen feeding in Heliconius is synthesized, and potential interactions between associated, putatively adaptive, traits are explored.

High evolutionary potential in the chemical defenses of an aposematic Heliconius butterfly

This work investigates variation in biosynthesized toxicity both in wild populations along environmental gradients and in common-garden broods and feeding treatments in Heliconius erato, together demonstrating considerable intraspecific variation and evolutionary potential in this important chemical defense trait.

The arms race between heliconiine butterflies and Passiflora plants – new insights on an ancient subject

Although the heliconiine–Passiflora model system has been intensively studied, the forces driving host‐plant preference in these butterflies remain unclear and there remain many exciting unanswered questions concerning this model system.

Gene Duplication and Gene Expression Changes Play a Role in the Evolution of Candidate Pollen Feeding Genes in Heliconius Butterflies

The results suggest pollen feeding, like other dietary specializations, was likely facilitated by adaptive expansions of preexisting genes—and that the butterfly proboscis is involved in digestive enzyme production.

Sequestration and biosynthesis of cyanogenic glucosides in passion vine butterflies and consequences for the diversification of their host plants

The CNglc distribution within Passiflora suggests that they might have diversified their cyanogenic profile to escape heliconiine herbivory, and improves the understanding on the evolution of cyanogenesis in the heliconiinae–PassiflorA system.



Patterns of pollen collection and flower visitation by Heliconius butterflies in southeastern Mexico

Although common in bees, wasps, flies and beetles, pollen feeding is rare among lepidopterans and in order to collect pollen, adults scrape anthers with the proboscis and gather the grains.

De novo Synthesis vs. Sequestration: Negatively Correlated Metabolic Traits and the Evolution of Host Plant Specialization in Cyanogenic Butterflies

Results suggest that losing the ability to synthesize cyanogens has restricted sara–sapho clade species to specific hosts containing SMC cyanogens and explains dietary restriction in this clade.

Do pollen feeding, pupal-mating and larval gregariousness have a single origin in Heliconius butterflies? Inferences from multilocus DNA sequence data

The results corroborate previous hypotheses based on sequence data in showing that Heliconius is paraphyletic, with Laparus doris and Neruda falling within the genus, demonstrating a single origin for pollen feeding but with a loss of the trait in Neruda.

Renewable and nonrenewable resources: Amino acid turnover and allocation to reproduction in Lepidoptera

This study demonstrates that female Lepidoptera can synthesize a large fraction of egg amino acids from nectar sugars, using endogenous sources of nitrogen, but essential amino acids derive only from the larval diet, placing an upper limit on the use of adult dietary resources to enhance reproductive success.


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  • Biology
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It is suggested that adult females of polyandrous species have a higher expected nutrient income and are consistent with the idea that females can benefit from male nutrient donations transferred during mating.

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A comparative examination, among related organisms, of the interactions between investment patterns and life history will yield testable hypotheses concerning the forces which have determined current reproductive investment patterns.

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  • Biology
    The American Naturalist
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Variation in the ratio of reproductive reserves to soma at adult eclosion among heliconiine species and sexes having relatively equivalent larval survivorship and availability of nutrients correlates with patterns of expected intake of nutrients and output of nutrients in the act of reproduction.

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