Molecular dating and biogeography of fig pollinating wasps

Pollinator host preference constraints permit reproduction on closely related Several lines of theory have been proposed to account for the enormous diversity of phytophagous insects.

Diversification conceivably ensues by ecological opportunity and adaptation to the exploitation of previously unattainable resources [ host species and populations of a group of African fig wasp pollinator species.

(2004) Oviposition strategies, host coercion and the stable exploitation of figs by wasps.

Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 136, 637-683.

(2008) Longevity, early emergence and body size in a pollinating fig wasp - implications for stability in a fig-pollinator mutualism.

Here, we use molecular methods to investigate cryptic diversity in the pollinating wasps of a widespread Australian fig species.Evolutionarily conservative host associations have been tempered by horizontal transfer and lineage duplication among closely related species.Independent and asynchronistic diversification of pollinating fig wasps is best explained by a combination of both sympatric and allopatric models of speciation.In addition, most regions had multiple coexisting pollinators, raising the question of how they coexist in apparently similar or identical resource niches.CONCLUSION: Our study offers a striking example of extreme deviation from reciprocal partner specificity over the full geographical range of a fig-wasp system.

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Standard barcoding genes and methods were not conclusive, but incorporation of phylogenetic analyses and a recently developed nuclear barcoding gene (ITS2), gave strong support for five pollinator species.

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