Temperature- and sex-related effects of serine protease alleles on larval development in the Glanville fritillary butterfly

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The body reserves of adult Lepidoptera are accumulated during larval development. In the Glanville fritillary butterfly, larger body size increases female fecundity, but in males fast larval development and early eclosion, rather than large body size, increase mating success and hence fitness. Larval growth rate is highly heritable, but genetic variation associated with larval development is largely unknown. By comparing the Glanville fritillary population living in the Åland Islands in northern Europe with a population in Nantaizi in China, within the source of the post-glacial range expansion, we identified candidate genes with reduced variation in Åland, potentially affected by selection under cooler climatic conditions than in Nantaizi. We conducted an association study of larval growth traits by genotyping the extremes of phenotypic trait distributions for 23 SNPs in 10 genes. Three genes in clip-domain serine protease family were associated with larval growth rate, development time and pupal weight. Additive effects of two SNPs in the prophenoloxidase-activating proteinase-3 (ProPO3) gene, related to melanization, showed elevated growth rate in high temperature but reduced growth rate in moderate temperature. The allelic effects of the vitellin-degrading protease precursor gene on development time were opposite in the two sexes, one genotype being associated with long development time and heavy larvae in females but short development time in males. Sexually antagonistic selection is here evident in spite of sexual size dimorphism.

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