Initiation of maternal effects in Lymantria dispar: Genetic and ecological components of egg provisioning

Mary Carol Rossiter, Diana L. Cox‐Foster, Michelle A. Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Resources supplied by mothers to offspring through the egg are known to significantly influence offspring life history traits in the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar. The purpose of this research was to determine the relative contribution of genetics (based on familial contribution) and the nutritional environment of the parents to the mean and variance of resources supplied to the eggs. Vitellogin, the dominant egg storage protein in the gypsy moth, was selected as the focus of the study. The amount of vitellogin in individual eggs from 48 mothers reared on one of four host species, quaking aspen, chestnut oak, red oak, or pitch pine was quantified with an immunoassay. Results of a nested analysis of variance show that both genetics and parental nutritional experience make significant contributions to egg vitellogin levels. When parents were reared on quaking aspen, vitellogin levels were highest and the expression of familial variation was greatest. This study shows that polyphagy can amplify phenotypic variance in reproductive traits through the interaction between genotype and nutritional environment. To the extent that egg resources influence offspring vigor, the fitness of offspring can include a time‐lagged component which arises from the interaction between the parental genotype and the parental environment. The time‐lagged expression of such a maternal trait is capable of influencing the rate and direction of character evolution and the stability of local population dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-589
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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