Evolution of insect host plant utilization: the comma butterfly as a model organism

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2009
End date: 31/12/2011
Funding: 2227000 SEK


Phytophagous insects make up a large proportion of all living organisms and are of key importance for many other groups of organisms as well. For this reason, insect host plant utilization is a major research area in evolutionary biology, but also in applied biology because of the great ecological and economical importance of such associations. The overall goals of the project are to illuminate how host plant utilization evolves, and to investigate if and how diversity in host use by phytophagous insects has contributed to the biodiversity of such species, and whether phenotypic plasticity has contributed to this process of diversification. Results from phylogenetic comparative studies during the previous grant period supported these ideas. Over the coming grant period I aim to focus more closely than previously on the comma butterfly (Polygonia c-album) as a model organism for the evolution of host plant range, but I combine approaches at several levels in the biological hierarchy: phylogenetic comparative studies, phylogeographic and population genetic studies, behavioural and life history plasticity studies at the level of the individual organism within the population context (including theoretical modelling) and a novel functional genomics approach. The latter aims to find the actual genes involved in host plant utilization by the comma butterfly, in order to eventually investigate the distribution of these genes in a phylogenetic context.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:38