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Plasticity of body growth and development in two cosmopolitan pupal parasitoids

Xingeng Wang, Brian N. Hogg, Antonio Biondi, Kent M. Daane
Biological control 2021 v.163 pp. 104738
Drosophila suzukii, Pachycrepoideus, Trichopria drosophilae, biological control, body size, eggs, fecundity, females, habitats, hosts, life history, parasitoids, phylogeny, progeny, pupae, temperature
Pachycrepoideus vindemiae and Trichopria drosophilae are cosmopolitan pupal parasitoids of Drosophilidae that attack the invasive Drosophila suzukii. This study investigated one aspect of their plasticity – host acceptance and offspring fitness on 25 Drosophila species in a phylogenetic framework. Each parasitoid’s key biological and ecological traits were compared among the different host species. Results demonstrate that both parasitoid species successfully parasitized and developed from all tested host species. Although the parasitoids’ efficiency and offspring fitness varied among host species, effects on life-history characteristics or ecological traits appeared to be unrelated to the phylogenetic position of tested host species. Both parasitoids benefited from attacking larger hosts, with body size of emerging progeny positively correlated to host size and an increased fecundity (mature egg load) of female wasps. Achieving larger body size came at no significant costs in immature development time. Results show remarkable levels of plasticity in the parasitoids’ body growth and development. Body size plasticity in T. drosophilae and P. vindemiae could improve biological control by increasing variation in parasitoid body sizes. Large size may not be advantageous under all conditions, however, and the parasitoids’ ecoservice impacts will be influenced not only by their plasticity to hosts but by environmental limitations such as temperature tolerances, habitat location, and host searching behaviors.