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Hourglass and rhythmic components of photoperiodic time measurement in the pitcher plant mosquito, Wyeomyia smithii

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The mosquito, Wyeomyia smithii, enters a larval dormancy or diapause that is initiated, maintained, and terminated by photoperiod. The median or critical photoperiod regulating diapause increases from 12 h of light per day along the Gulf of Mexico, USA (30° N), to over 15 h in southern Canada (49° N). Photoperiodic time measurement in W. smithii comprises both rhythmic and hourglass (interval timer) components. Using interrupted-night and resonance experiments, we show that both the rhythmic and hourglass components are prominent in the southern (ancestral) populations and that the influence of the rhythmic component declines with increasing latitude, while the hourglass component remains strong in northern (derived) populations. Previously, it has been shown that the genetic differences in critical photoperiod between northern populations and their southern ancestors involve not only the additive (independent) effects of genes, but also gene-gene interaction (epistasis). We therefore conclude that adaptive evolution of W. smithii has probably involved the progressive epistatic masking of the ancestral rhythmic component resulting in photoperiodic time measurement in northern populations accomplished principally through a day-interval timer. A comparison of W. smithii with previous studies indicates that the decline in critical photoperiod with increasing latitude represents an overall decrease in response to light rather than a shift in the timing of photosensitivity among arthropods in general. We propose that the underlying functional components of photoperiodic time measurement, as well as the overt photoperiodic response, are either homologous or are themselves responding directly to selection over latitudinal gradients in seasonality.

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Received: 18 May 1998 / Accepted: 14 September 1998

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Bradshaw, W., Holzapfel, C. & Davison, T. Hourglass and rhythmic components of photoperiodic time measurement in the pitcher plant mosquito, Wyeomyia smithii . Oecologia 117, 486–495 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004420050684

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  • Key words Photoperiodism
  • Circadian rhythms Evolution
  • Diapause
  • Latitude