, Volume 38, Issue 12, pp 1504-1512
Date: 06 Nov 2012

The Response to Selection for Broad Male Response to Female Sex Pheromone and its Implications for Divergence in Close-Range Mating Behavior in the European Corn Borer Moth, Ostrinia nubilalis


Coordinated sexual communication systems, seen in many species of moths, are hypothesized to be under strong stabilizing natural selection. Stabilized communication systems should be resistant to change, but there are examples of species/populations that show great diversification. A possible solution is that it is directional sexual selection on variation in male response that drives evolution. We tested a component of this model by asking whether ‘rare’ males (ca. 5 % of all males in a population) of the European corn borer moth (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis, that respond to the sex pheromones of both ECB and a different Ostrinia species (O. furnacalis, the Asian corn borer, ACB), might play an important role in diversification. We specifically tested, via artificial selection, whether this broad male response has an evolvable genetic component. We increased the frequency of broad male response from 5 to 70 % in 19 generations, showing that broad-responding males could be important for the evolution of novel communication systems in ECB. We did not find a broader range of mating acceptance of broad males by females of the base population, however, suggesting that broad response would be unlikely to increase in frequency without the involvement of other factors. However, we found that ECB selection-line females accepted a broader range of courting males, including those of ACB, than did females of the base population. Thus, a genetic correlation exists between broad, long-range response to female sex pheromone and the breadth of female acceptance of males at close range. These results are discussed in the context of evolution of novel communication systems in Ostrinia.