Selective maintenance of allozyme differences among sympatric host races of the apple maggot fly

Jeffrey L. Feder, Joseph B. Roethele, Brian Wlazlo, Stewart H. Berlocher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whether phytophagous insects can speciate in sympatry when they shift and adapt to new host plants is a controversial question. One essential requirement for sympatric speciation is that disruptive selection outweighs gene flow between insect populations using different host plants. Empirical support for host-related selection (i.e., fitness trade-offs) is scant, however. Here, we test for host-dependent selection acting on apple (Malus pumila)- and hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)-infesting races of Rhagoletis pomonella (Diptera: Tephritidae). In particular, we examine whether the earlier fruiting phenology of apple trees favors pupae in deeper states of diapause (or with slower metabolisms/development rates) in the apple fly race. By experimentally lengthening the time period preceding winter, we exposed hawthorn race pupae to environmental conditions typically faced by apple flies. This exposure induced a significant genetic response at six allozyme loci in surviving hawthorn fly adults toward allele frequencies found in the apple race. The sensitivity of hawthorn fly pupae to extended periods of warm weather therefore selects against hawthorn flies that infest apples and helps to maintain the genetic integrity of the apple race by counteracting gene flow from sympatric hawthorn populations. Our findings confirm that postzygotic reproductive isolation can evolve as a pleiotropic consequence of host-associated adaptation, a central tenet of nonallopatric speciation. They also suggest that one reason for the paucity of reported fitness trade-offs is a failure to consider adequately costs associated with coordinating an insect's life cycle with the phenology of its host plant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11417-11421
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - Oct 14 1997


  • Fitness trade-offs
  • Host plant phenology
  • Host x environment interactions
  • Rhagoletis pomonella
  • Sympatric speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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