Peter Pruisscher


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Works at Department of Zoology
Telephone 08-16 42 79
Visiting address Svante Arrheniusväg 18b
Room D447
Postal address Zoologiska institutionen: Populationsgenetik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Peter Pruisscher is a PhD student supervised by Karl Gotthard and Christopher Wheat. Peter uses a combination of lab-experiments and genomic tools to study local adaptation of diapause in the butterflies Pieris napi and Pararge aegeria. He received his Bachelor (Hons) Wildlife Management at Van Hall Larenstein (Netherlands), and his MSc Biology at Lund University (Sweden). His MSc thesis leveraged RAD-tag sequencing to investigate genetic differentiation and hybridization in African Paradise-Flycatchers.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Peter Pruisscher (et al.). Physiological entomology (Print) 42 (3), 257-265

    Many temperate insects survive harsh environmental conditions, such as winter, by entering a state of developmental arrest. This diapause state is predominantly induced by photoperiod. The photoperiod varies with latitude and has led to local adaptation in the photoperiodic induction of diapause in many insects. To understand the rapid evolution of the photoperiodic threshold, it is important to investigate and understand the underlying genetic mechanisms. In the present study, the genetic basis of photoperiodic diapause induction is investigated in the green-veined white butterfly Pieris napi (Lepidoptera, Pieridae) by assaying diapause induction in a range of conditions for a Swedish and Spanish population. Furthermore, the inheritance of diapause induction is assessed in reciprocal F1 hybrids and backcrosses between the two populations. The southern population shows a clear photoperiodic threshold determining diapause or direct development, whereas the northern populations show a high incidence of diapause, regardless of photoperiod. The hybrid crosses reveal that the inheritance of diapause induction is strongly sex-linked, and that diapause incidence in the genetic crosses is highly dependent on photoperiod. This emphasizes the importance of assaying a range of conditions in diapause inheritance studies. The results indicate a strongly heritable diapause induction with a major component on the Z-chromosome, as well as a minor effect of the autosomal background.

  • 2018. Philipp Lehmann (et al.). Journal of Experimental Biology 221 (2)

    Diapause is a deep resting stage facilitating temporal avoidance of unfavourable environmental conditions, and is used by many insects to adapt their life cycle to seasonal variation. Although considerable work has been invested in trying to understand each of the major diapause stages (induction, maintenance and termination), we know very little about the transitions between stages, especially diapause termination. Understanding diapause termination is crucial for modelling and predicting spring emergence and winter physiology of insects, including many pest insects. In order to gain these insights, we investigated metabolome dynamics across diapause development in pupae of the butterfly Pieris napi, which exhibits adaptive latitudinal variation in the length of endogenous diapause that is uniquely well characterized. By employing a time-series experiment, we show that the whole-body metabolome is highly dynamic throughout diapause and differs between pupae kept at a diapause-terminating (low) temperature and those kept at a diapause-maintaining (high) temperature. We showmajor physiological transitions through diapause, separate temperature-dependent from temperature-independent processes and identify significant patterns of metabolite accumulation and degradation. Together, the data show that although the general diapause phenotype (suppressed metabolism, increased cold tolerance) is established in a temperature-independent fashion, diapause termination is temperature dependent and requires a cold signal. This revealed several metabolites that are only accumulated under diapause-terminating conditions and degraded in a temperature-unrelated fashion during diapause termination. In conclusion, our findings indicate that some metabolites, in addition to functioning as cryoprotectants, for example, are candidates for having regulatory roles as metabolic clocks or time-keepers during diapause.

  • 2016. Philipp Lehmann (et al.). Journal of Experimental Biology 219 (19), 3049-3060

    Diapause is a fundamental component of the life-cycle in the majority of insects living in environments characterized by strong seasonality. The present study addresses poorly understood associations and trade-offs between endogenous diapause duration, thermal sensitivity of development, energetic cost of development and cold tolerance. Diapause intensity, metabolic rate trajectories and lipid profiles of directly developing and diapausing animals were studied using pupae and adults of Pieris napi butterflies from a population for which endogenous diapause is well studied. Endogenous diapause was terminated after 3 months and termination required chilling. Metabolic and postdiapause development rates increased with diapause duration, while the metabolic cost of postdiapause development decreased, indicating that once diapause is terminated development proceeds at a low rate even at low temperature. Diapausing pupae had larger lipid stores than the directly developing pupae and lipids constituted the primary energy source during diapause. However, during diapause lipid stores did not decrease. Thus, despite lipid catabolism meeting the low energy costs of the diapausing pupae, primary lipid store utilization did not occur until the onset of growth and metamorphosis in spring. In line with this finding, diapausing pupae contained low amounts of mitochondria-derived cardiolipins, which suggests a low capacity for fatty acid β-oxidation. While ontogenic development had a large effect on lipid and fatty acid profiles, only small changes in these were seen during diapause. The data therefore indicate that the diapause lipidomic phenotype is built early, when pupae are still at high temperature, and retained until diapause post-diapause development.

  • 2015. Sandra Stålhandske (et al.). Ecology and Evolution 5 (23), 5509-5520

    The effect of spring temperature on spring phenology is well understood in a wide range of taxa. However, studies on how winter conditions may affect spring phenology are underrepresented. Previous work on Anthocharis cardamines (orange tip butterfly) has shown population-specific reaction norms of spring development in relation to spring temperature and a speeding up of post-winter development with longer winter durations. In this experiment, we examined the effects of a greater and ecologically relevant range of winter durations on post-winter pupal development of A. cardamines of two populations from the United Kingdom and two from Sweden. By analyzing pupal weight loss and metabolic rate, we were able to separate the overall post-winter pupal development into diapause duration and post-diapause development. We found differences in the duration of cold needed to break diapause among populations, with the southern UK population requiring a shorter duration than the other populations. We also found that the overall post-winter pupal development time, following removal from winter cold, was negatively related to cold duration, through a combined effect of cold duration on diapause duration and on post-diapause development time. Longer cold durations also lead to higher population synchrony in hatching. For current winter durations in the field, the A. cardamines population of southern UK could have a reduced development rate and lower synchrony in emergence because of short winters. With future climate change, this might become an issue also for other populations. Differences in winter conditions in the field among these four populations are large enough to have driven local adaptation of characteristics controlling spring phenology in response to winter duration. The observed phenology of these populations depends on a combination of winter and spring temperatures; thus, both must be taken into account for accurate predictions of phenology.

Show all publications by Peter Pruisscher at Stockholm University

Last updated: June 14, 2019

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