Molecular mechanisms of mutualistic and antagonistic interactions in a plant–pollinator association

Wang, R., Yang, Y., Jing, Y., Segar, S.T., Zhang, Y., Wang, G., Chen, J., Liu, Q., Chen, S., Chen, Y., Cruaud, A., Ding, Y., Dunn, D.W., Gao, Q., Gilmartin, P.M., Jiang, K., Kjellberg, F., Li, H., Li, Y., Liu, J., Liu, M., Machado, C.A., Ming, R., Rasplus, J., Tong, X., Wen, P., Yang, H., Yang, J.J., Yin, Y., Zhang, X.T., Zhang, Y.Y., Yu, H., Yue, Z., Compton, S.G. and Chen, X.Y. (2021) Molecular mechanisms of mutualistic and antagonistic interactions in a plant–pollinator association. Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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Many insects metamorphose from antagonistic larvae into mutualistic adult pollinators, with reciprocal adaptation leading to specialized insect–plant associations. It remains unknown how such interactions are established at molecular level. Here we assemble high-quality genomes of a fig species, Ficus pumila var. pumila, and its specific pollinating wasp, Wiebesia pumilae. We combine multi-omics with validation experiments to reveal molecular mechanisms underlying this specialized interaction. In the plant, we identify the specific compound attracting pollinators and validate the function of several key genes regulating its biosynthesis. In the pollinator, we find a highly reduced number of odorant-binding protein genes and an odorant-binding protein mainly binding the attractant. During antagonistic interaction, we find similar chemical profiles and turnovers throughout the development of galled ovules and seeds, and a significant contraction of detoxification-related gene families in the pollinator. Our study identifies some key genes bridging coevolved mutualists, establishing expectations for more diffuse insect–pollinator systems.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ecology, Evolution
Divisions: Agriculture and Environment (from 1.08.20)
Depositing User: Mrs Rachael Giles
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2021 10:10
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2021 04:30

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