We used flow cytometry and extensive geographic surveys of herbivore attack to test whether repeated evolution of autotetraploidy in the perennial herb Heuchera grossulariifolia Rydb. (Saxifragaceae) has created evolutionary barriers to attack by the specialist moth herbivore Greya politella (Prodoxidae). We found that the moth has colonized tetraploid as well as diploid populations, has colonized tetraploids of separate evolutionary origin, and, at least under some conditions, is more likely to attack tetraploids than diploids. Plant polyploidy therefore provides a potential mute out of specialization as an evolutionary dead end in phytophagous insect taxa as well as a potentially important mute to subsequent phylogenetic and geographic diversification of plant/insect interactions.
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