The importance and prevalence of phylogenetic tracking between hosts and dependent organisms caused by co-evolution and shifting between closely related host species have been debated for decades. Most studies of phylogenetic tracking among phytophagous insects and their host plants have been limited to insects feeding on a narrow range of host species. However, narrow host ranges can confound phylogenetic tracking (phylogenetic tracking hypothesis) with host shifting between hosts of intermediate relationship (intermediate hypothesis). Here, we investigated the evolutionary history of the Enchenopa binotata complex of treehoppers. Each species in this complex has high host fidelity, but the entire complex uses hosts across eight plant orders. The phylogenies of E. binotata were reconstructed to evaluate whether (1) tracking host phylogeny; or (2) shifting between intermediately related host plants better explains the evolutionary history of E. binotata. Our results suggest that E. binotata primarily shifted between both distant and intermediate host plants regardless of host phylogeny and less frequently tracked the phylogeny of their hosts. These findings indicate that phytophagous insects with high host fidelity, such as E. binotata, are capable of adaptation not only to closely related host plants but also to novel hosts, likely with diverse phenology and defense mechanisms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation