Does colour matter? Genetic differentiation of colour morphs of the Asian golden web spider Nephila antipodiana (Araneae: Nephilidae)

in Animal Biology
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Here we present the first attempt to test for genetic differentiation among four distinct colour morphs of the Asian golden web spider Nephila antipodiana Walckenaer. Fragments of the 18S rRNA (18S) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) genes were sequenced in eight populations of N. antipodiana belonging to four distinct colour morphs: yellow, yellowish green, and two newly discovered morphs, reddish yellow and white-spotted. The nuclear sequences amplified from females of the four colour morphs were identical. The mitochondrial COI sequences, on the other hand, revealed slightly higher variation by recovering three haplotypes belonging to two different clades. Clade I comprises yellow, yellowish green and reddish yellow morphs from the mainland of Southeast Asia and Java, whereas clade II is restricted to white-spotted morph originating from Borneo. The low genetic divergence between both clades, despite being distinctive, undoubtedly provides new insight into the genetic diversity of this polymorphic species.

Does colour matter? Genetic differentiation of colour morphs of the Asian golden web spider Nephila antipodiana (Araneae: Nephilidae)

in Animal Biology



BarrettR.D.H. & HebertP.D.N. (2005) Identifying spiders through DNA barcodes. Can. J. Zool.83481-491.

BarrionA.T. & LitsingerJ.A. (1995) Riceland Spiders of South and Southeast Asia. CAB InternationalWallingford, UK.

CabaretJ. & Durette-DessetM.C. (1991) Polymorphism of helminths: from morphology to genetics. Ann. Parasitol. Hum. Comp.6617-22.

ClementM.PosadaD. & CrandallK. (2000) TCS: a computer program to estimate gene genealogies. Mol. Ecol.91657-1660.

DzulhelmiM.N. & Norma-RashidY. (2014) Spider assemblages in Rimba Ilmu Botanical Garden, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sains Malaysiana43497-502.

DzulhelmiM.N.SuriyantiS.ZulqarnainM. & NormaC.Y. (2014) New distributional records of spiders (Arachnida: Araneae) from the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Pak. J. Zool.461573-1584.

FolmerO.BlackM.HoehW.LutzR. & VrijenhoekR. (1994) DNA primers for amplification of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I from diverse metazoan invertebrates. Mol. Mar. Biol. Biotechnol.3294-299.

HallT.A. (1999) BioEdit: a user-friendly biological sequence alignment editor and analysis program for Windows 95/98/NT. Nucl. Acids Symp. Ser.4195-98.

HarveyM.S.AustinA.D. & AdamsM. (2007) The systematics and biology of the spider genus Nephila (Araneae: Nephilidae) in the Australasian region. Invertebr. Syst.21407-451.

HuelsenbeckJ.P. & RonquistF. (2001) MRBAYES: Bayesian inference of phylogenetic trees. Bioinformatics17754-755.

KohJ.K.H. (1989) A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders. Singapore Science CentreSingapore.

KuntnerM. & AgnarssonI. (2011) Phylogeography of a successful aerial disperser: the golden orb spider Nephila on Indian Ocean islands. BMC Evol. Biol.11119.

López-LegentilS. & TuronX. (2005) How do morphotypes and chemotypes relate to genotypes? The colonial ascidian Cystodytes (Polycitoridae). Zool. Scr.343-14.

LowV.L.TayS.T.KhoK.L.KohF.X.TanT.K.LimY.A.OngB.L.PanchadcharamC.Norma-RashidY. & Sofian-AzirunM. (2015) Molecular characterisation of the tick Rhipicephalus microplus in Malaysia: new insights into the cryptic diversity and distinct genetic assemblages throughout the world. Parasit. Vectors8341.

LowV.L.Norma-RashidY. & Sofian-AzirunM. (2016a) Playing hide-and-seek with the tiny dragonfly: DNA barcoding discriminates multiple lineages of Nannophya pygmaea in Asia. J. Insect Conserv.20339-343.

LowV.L.TakaokaH.PramualP.AdlerP.H.Ya’cobZ.ChenC.D.YotopranotoS.ZaidA.HadiU.K.LardizabalM.L.Nasruddin-RoshidiA. & Sofian-AzirunM. (2016b) Three taxa in one: cryptic diversity in the black fly Simulium nobile (Diptera: Simuliidae) in Southeast Asia. J. Med. Entomol.53972-976.

McLeanC.A.Stuart-FoxD. & MoussalliA. (2015) Environment, but not genetic divergence, influences geographic variation in colour morph frequencies in a lizard. BMC Evol. Biol.15156.

OxfordG.S. (2005) Genetic drift within a protected polymorphism: enigmatic variation in color-morph frequencies in the candy-stripe spider, Enoplognatha ovata. Evolution592170-2184.

OxfordG.S. & GillespieR.G. (1998) Evolution and ecology of spider coloration. Annu. Rev. Entomol.43619-643.

OxfordG.S. & GillespieR.G. (2001) Portraits of evolution: studies of coloration in Hawaiian spiders. BioSci.51521-528.

PereiraA.M.BritoC.SanchesJ.Sousa-SantosC. & RobaloJ.I. (2014) Absence of consistent genetic differentiation among several morphs of Actinia (Actiniaria: Actiniidae) occurring in the Portuguese coast. Zootaxa3893595-600.

RambautA.SuchardM.XieW. & DrummondA.J. (2013) Tracer v1.6. Institute of Evolutionary Biology University of Edinburgh. Available from

RunemarkA.HanssonB.PafilisP.ValakosE.D. & SvenssonE.I. (2010) Island biology and morphological divergence of the Skyros wall lizard Podarcis gaigeae: a combined role for local selection and genetic drift on color morph frequency divergence? BMC Evol. Biol.10269.

SuY.C.ChangY.H.LeeS.C. & TsoI.M. (2007) Phylogeography of the giant wood spider (Nephila pilipes, Araneae) from Asian-Australian regions. J. Biogeogr.34177-191.

SuY.C.ChangY.H.SmithD.ZhuM.S.KuntnerM. & TsoI.M. (2011) Biogeography and speciation patterns of the golden orb spider genus Nephila (Araneae: Nephilidae) in Asia. Zool. Sci.2847-55.

SwoffordD.L. (2002) PAUP*: Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony (*and Other Methods). Sinauer AssociatesSunderland, MA, USA.

TakaokaH.LowV.L.Sofian-AzirunM.OtsukaY.Ya’cobZ.ChenC.D.LauK.W. & LardizabalM.L. (2016) Dimorphic male scutal patterns and upper-eye facets of Simulium mirum n. sp. (Diptera: Simuliidae) from Malaysia. Parasit. Vectors9136.

TangC.Q.LeasiF.OberteggerU.KienekeA.BarracloughT.G. & FontanetoD. (2012) The widely used small subunit 18S rDNA molecule greatly underestimates true diversity in biodiversity surveys of the meiofauna. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA10916208-16212.

TarjueloI.PosadaD.CrandallK.A.PascualM. & TuronX. (2004) Phylogeography and speciation of colour morphs in the colonial ascidian Pseudodistoma crucigaster. Mol. Ecol.133125-3136.

TautzD.HancockJ.M.WebbD.A.TautzC. & DoverG.A. (1988) Complete sequences of the rRNA genes of Drosophila melanogaster. Mol. Biol. Evol.5366-376.

TeskeP.R.BarkerN.P. & McQuaidC.D. (2007) Lack of genetic differentiation among four sympatric southeast African intertidal limpets (Siphonariidae): phenotypic plasticity in a single species? J. Molluscan Stud.73223-228.

WuS.XiongJ. & YuY. (2015) Taxonomic resolutions based on 18S rRNA genes: a case study of subclass Copepoda. PLoS One10e0131498.

YongH.S. (2009) Nephila antipodiana (Araneae: Nephilidae) from Pahang. J. Sci. Technol. Tropics519-21.

YongH.S.HashimR.BelabutD. & LimP.E. (2010) Abdominal colour polymorphism in female Asian golden web spider Nephila antipodiana (Araneae: Nephilidae). J. Sci. Technol. Tropics639-42.

ZhangJ.KapliP.PavlidisP. & StamatakisA. (2013) A general species delimitation method with applications to phylogenetic placements. Bioinformatics292869-2876.


  • View in gallery

    An outline map of Southeast Asia depicting the sampling sites of Nephila antipodiana used in this study.

  • View in gallery

    Sampling sites for Nephila antipodiana in Southeast Asia.

  • View in gallery

    Statistical parsimony network for COI haplotypes of Nephila antipodiana. Line lengths represent the number of mutational steps between haplotypes. The size of the square and ovals corresponds to the haplotype frequency.

  • View in gallery

    Uncorrected “p” distance matrix among haplotypes based on COI sequences.

  • View in gallery

    Variable sites of Nephila antipodiana haplotypes (H1-H3) in COI sequences.

  • View in gallery

    Bayesian inference phylogenetic tree of Nephila antipodiana based on COI sequences. Posterior probability/bootstrap (BI/NJ/MP) values are shown on the branches. The scale bar represents 0.1 substitutions per nucleotide position. Abbreviations: RY, reddish yellow; WS, white-spotted; Y, yellow; YG, yellowish green.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 47 47 29
Full Text Views 71 71 54
PDF Downloads 8 8 3
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0