Evol Ecol Res 11: 1271-1281 (2009)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Heritability of defence and life-history traits in the two-spotted spider mite

N.S.H. Tien, M.W. Sabelis and M. Egas

Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Correspondence: N.S.H. Tien, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 94084, 1090 GB Amsterdam, Netherlands.
e-mail: n.s.h.tien@uva.nl


Background: Two-spotted spider mites hide against predatory mites in a web of self-produced sticky silk. The proteins invested in this shelter may reduce investment in reproduction.

Questions: Do spider mite populations harbour genetic variation for web production, thereby enabling a response to selection by predation? Is adaptation affected by genetic trade-offs with life-history traits? The data were also used to test a central hypothesis in quantitative genetics, that heritability indicates a trait’s importance for fitness and is positively correlated with the amount of additive genetic variation across traits.

Method: Using a mother–daughter breeding design, we determined the narrow-sense heritability and coefficients of additive genetic and residual variation (CVA and CVR) for web production and six life-history traits. In addition, we examined correlations between heritable traits for genetic trade-offs.

Conclusions: Web production exhibited heritability of 50% and a high CVA. Thus, web production is not a fixed defence-related trait, and probably has the potential to evolve. Two life-history traits (oviposition rate and total adult offspring) revealed significant heritable variation. Results were inconclusive regarding genetic trade-off with web production. The life-history data demonstrate a positive relationship between heritability and CVA, which supports the hypothesis that the relationship of traits with fitness influences their amount of heritable variation.

Keywords: elimination-selection hypothesis, Tetranychus urticae, trade-off, variance compounding.

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