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Latitudinal trend in the reproductive mode of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum invading a wide climatic range

Citation

Martel, Sebastián et al. (2021), Latitudinal trend in the reproductive mode of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum invading a wide climatic range, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3xsj3txbk

Abstract

The maintenance of sexuality is a puzzling phenomenon in evolutionary biology. Many universal hypotheses have been proposed to explain the prevalence of sex despite its costs, but it has been hypothesized that sex could be also retained by lineage-specific mechanisms that would confer some short-term advantage. Aphids are good models to study the maintenance of sex because they exhibit coexistence of both sexual and asexual populations within the same species and because they invade a large variety of ecosystems. Sex in aphids is thought to be maintained because only sexually produced eggs can persist in cold climates but whether sex is obligate or facultative depending on climatic conditions remains to be elucidated. In this study, we have inferred the reproductive mode of introduced populations of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum in Chile along a climatic gradient using phenotypic assays and genetic-based criteria to test the ecological short-term advantage of sex in cold environments. Our results showed a latitudinal trend in the reproductive mode of Chilean pea aphid populations from obligate parthenogenesis in the north to an intermediate life-cycle producing both parthenogenetic and sexual progeny in the southernmost subpopulation, where harsh winters are usual. These findings are congruent with the hypothesis of the ecological short-term advantage of sex in aphids.