Nathan Egan Rank

Köpf, A., N.E. Rank, H. Roininen, R. Julkunen-Tiitto, J.M. Pasteels & J. Tahvanainen. 1998. Phylogeny and the evolution of host plant use and sequestration in the willow leaf beetle genus Phratora (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Evolution 52:517-528.

Leaf beetles in the genus Phratora differ in host plant use and in the chemical composition of their larval defensive secretion. Most species specialize on either poplars or willows (family Salicaceae), but two species feed on birch (family Betulaceae). Phratora vitellinae utilizes salicylates from the host plant to produce its larval secretion, which contains salicylaldehyde, while other Phratora species produce an autogenous secretion. To reconstruct the evolutionary history of host plant use and the larval secretion chemistry in this genus, we sequenced 1383 base pairs of the mt cytochrome oxidase I gene for six European and one North-American Phratora species and three outgroup taxa. Bootstrap values of the complete nucleotide sequence were 99-100% for 6 of 8 nodes in the maximum parsimony tree. They were 71% and 77% for the two other nodes. The maximum parsimony tree and the maximum likelihood tree based on nucleotide sequence showed the same relationships as a maximum parsimony tree based on the amino acid sequence. Beetle phylogeny overlapped broadly with host plant taxonomy and chemistry, and it revealed historical constraints influencing host plant use. However, there was one host shift from the willow family (Salicaceae) to the birch family (Betulaceae). The use of host plant phenol glycosides for the larval defensive secretion evolved along the lineage that led to P. vitellinae. Phratora vitellinae feeds on the taxonomically widest range of host plants, which are characterized by moderate to high levels of salicylates. The results support the hypothesis that the use of salicylates for the larval secretion evolved twice independently in chrysomeline leaf beetles.

Rank Publications | Nathan Rank's Homepage | Department of Biology | Sonoma State University

September 16, 1997 NER