Temporal dynamics of the mimetic allele frequency at the doublesex locus, which controls polymorphic Batesian mimicry in Papilio memnon butterflies

Shinya Komata, Chung Ping Lin, Teiji Sota

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Abstract

Tracking allele frequencies is essential for understanding how polymorphisms of adaptive traits are maintained. In Papilio memnon butterflies, which exhibit a female-limited Batesian mimicry polymorphism (wing-pattern polymorphism), two alleles at the doublesex (dsx) locus correspond to mimetic and non-mimetic forms in females; males carry both dsx alleles but display only the non-mimetic form. This polymorphism is thought to be maintained by a negative frequency-dependent selection. By tracking dsx allele frequencies in both sexes at a Taiwanese site over four years, we found that the mimetic allele persists at intermediate frequencies even when the unpalatable model papilionid butterflies (Pachliopta and Atrophaneura species) were very rare or absent. The rates of male mate choice did not differ between the two female forms; neither did insemination number nor age composition, suggesting equivalent reproductive performance of the two forms over time. Our results characterised the temporal dynamics of the mimetic allele frequency in the field for the first time and give insights into underlying processes involved in the persistence of the female-limited Batesian mimicry polymorphism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12926
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1

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