The effect of Leptomastix dactylopii parasitism and venom injection on host Planococcus citri
Keywords:parasitoid wasp, venom proteins, Hymenoptera, Homoptera, microinjections
One of the major alterations observed in mealybug Planococcus citri parasitized by Leptomastix
dactylopii is a strong reduction of laid eggs, which is evident soon after parasitization. Venom injection in unparasitized hosts determines a drastic reduction of fecundity indicating that this female secretion injected at the oviposition plays a key-role in host regulation. In order to assess the impact of parasitism and venom injection on host reproductive tissues, ovaries were dissected at different time intervals after these treatments and observed by light and transmission electron microscopy. The developing eggs showed clear symptoms of degeneration, already half an hour after parasitization or venom injection. Heat and protease treatments of venom nearly suppressed its effects on host reproduction, indicating that proteins are likely responsible for the observed alterations. The electrophoretic profile of venom proteins covers a wide range of molecular masses between 15 to 200 kDa but five major bands having a molecular mass of about 27, 30, 40, 90 and 120 kDa respectively were more evident. Moreover, to establish any parasitoid preference in host selection, among the adult female mealybugs at different stages of maturation and a possible relation with fecundity reduction in the host, the parasitoid behavior was observed.