Genetic architecture of dispersal behaviour in the post-harvest pest and model organism Tribolium castaneum

Michael D. Pointer, Lewis G. Spurgin, Matthew J.G. Gage, Mark McMullan, David S. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Dispersal behaviour is an important aspect of the life-history of animals. However, the genetic architecture of dispersal-related traits is often obscure or unknown, even in well studied species. Tribolium castaneum is a globally significant post-harvest pest and established model organism, yet studies of its dispersal have shown ambiguous results and the genetic basis of this behaviour remains unresolved. We combine experimental evolution and agent-based modelling to investigate the number of loci underlying dispersal in T. castaneum, and whether the trait is sex-linked. Our findings demonstrate rapid evolution of dispersal behaviour under selection. We find no evidence of sex-biases in the dispersal behaviour of the offspring of crosses, supporting an autosomal genetic basis of the trait. Moreover, simulated data approximates experimental data under simulated scenarios where the dispersal trait is controlled by one or few loci, but not many loci. Levels of dispersal in experimentally inbred lines, compared with simulations, indicate that a single locus model is not well supported. Taken together, these lines of evidence support an oligogenic architecture underlying dispersal in Tribolium castaneum. These results have implications for applied pest management and for our understanding of the evolution of dispersal in the coleoptera, the world’s most species-rich order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

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