Research ArticleGENETICS

Large-scale diversification without genetic isolation in nematode symbionts of figs

Science Advances  15 Jan 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 1, e1501031
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501031

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text


Diversification is commonly understood to be the divergence of phenotypes accompanying that of lineages. In contrast, alternative phenotypes arising from a single genotype are almost exclusively limited to dimorphism in nature. We report a remarkable case of macroevolutionary-scale diversification without genetic divergence. Upon colonizing the island-like microecosystem of individual figs, symbiotic nematodes of the genus Pristionchus accumulated a polyphenism with up to five discrete adult morphotypes per species. By integrating laboratory and field experiments with extensive genotyping of individuals, including the analysis of 49 genomes from a single species, we show that rapid filling of potential ecological niches is possible without diversifying selection on genotypes. This uncoupling of morphological diversification and speciation in fig-associated nematodes has resulted from a remarkable expansion of discontinuous developmental plasticity.

  • Developmental plasticity
  • Pristionchus
  • figs
  • genetic isolation
  • adaptive radiation
  • diversification
  • nematodes
  • predation

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

More Like This