Genetic basis of body color and spotting pattern in redheaded pine sawfly larvae (Neodiprion lecontei)

Catherine R. Linnen, Claire T. O’Quin, Taylor Shackleford, Connor R. Sears, Carita Lindstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Pigmentation has emerged as a premier model for understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic evolution, and a growing catalog of color loci is starting to reveal biases in the mutations, genes, and genetic architectures underlying color variation in the wild. However, existing studies have sampled a limited subset of taxa, color traits, and developmental stages. To expand the existing sample of color loci, we performed QTL mapping analyses on two types of larval pigmentation traits that vary among populations of the redheaded pine sawfly (Neodiprion lecontei): carotenoid-based yellow body color and melanin-based spotting pattern. For both traits, our QTL models explained a substantial proportion of phenotypic variation and suggested a genetic architecture that is neither monogenic nor highly polygenic. Additionally, we used our linkage map to anchor the current N. lecontei genome assembly. With these data, we identified promising candidate genes underlying (1) a loss of yellow pigmentation in populations in the mid-Atlantic/northeastern United States [C locus-associated membrane protein homologous to a mammalian HDL receptor-2 gene (Cameo2) and lipid transfer particle apolipoproteins II and I gene (apoLTP-II/I)], and (2) a pronounced reduction in black spotting in Great Lakes populations [members of the yellow gene family, tyrosine hydroxylase gene (pale), and dopamine N-acetyltransferase gene (Dat)]. Several of these genes also contribute to color variation in other wild and domesticated taxa. Overall, our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that predictable genes of large effect contribute to color evolution in nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-305
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the Genetics Society of America.


  • Carotenoids
  • Convergent evolution
  • Evolutionary genetics
  • Genetic architecture
  • Melanin
  • Pigmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetic basis of body color and spotting pattern in redheaded pine sawfly larvae (Neodiprion lecontei)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this