The identity of the gene that controls four main colour patterns of highly polymorphic ladybird. Harmonia axyridis was recently discovered. Because we possess a unique set of strains of rare natural colour morphs and novel laboratory mutants, we intend to identify in detail which part of the control region of the gene is responsible for particular part of the melanic pattern of the beetles. Simultaneously, we will study the ecological relevance of the colour patterns: their role in avoidance by visually oriented predators (birds), content of toxins in individual morphs and their correlation to the toxicity, repellency and immunity to non-visual arthropod predators, scavengers, parasitoids and fungal parasites. Evolutionary history of individual colour pattern alleles will be reconstructed using a congeneric species H. quadripunctata as outgroup. Genetic mechanism of pattern change of a newly discovered Oenopia shirkuhensis will be investigated by comparison to sister species O. conglobata and unrelated mimicry model Adalia bipunctata.
Nedvěd Oldřich doc. RNDr. CSc.