Population genetics of a plant and its parasitic pollinator moth

Many species exist on isolated habitats connected by dispersal of individuals. The evolutionary dynamics between two interacting species can be strongly influenced by the difference in mobility.

Silene stellata
Starry Campion Silene stellata. Image: Jason Hollinger / Wikipedia

Using highly variable genetic markers, Zhou et al. compare the genetic differentiation between a perennial herb, the starry campion Silene stellata (Caryophyllaceae) and its major pollinator moth, Hadena ectypa. They find that the plant populations are much more genetically differentiated than the moth. This is supported by the additional result that gene dispersal among the moth populations is more uniform and twice as strong as the plant.

Further reading

Zhou, J., Dudash, M. R., Zimmer, E. A., & Fenster, C. B. (2018). Comparison of population genetic structures of the plant Silene stellata and its obligate pollinating seed predator moth Hadena ectypa. Annals of Botany, 122(4), 593–603. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcy091