Parasitoid-host interaction: sensory structures involved in the parasitism behavior of Bracon vulgaris (Hymenoptera: Braconidae)

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Parasitoids have evolved mechanisms to evade their hosts’ defenses. Bracon vulgaris (Ashmead) is a larval ectoparasitoid responsible for natural reduction of Anthonomus grandis (Boheman) and Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders), which are considered the main cotton pests in the cotton agro-ecosystem in northeastern Brazil. This study aimed to analyze the sensory structures (antennae and ovipositor) involved in the parasitism behavior of B. vulgaris, and to describe and evaluate associations between composition, morphology, and functions of these structures in the parasitoid-host interaction. Results showed that the B. vulgaris ovipositor is a multifunctional structure of 2.7 ± 0.3 mm in length composed of 3 valves. Valves 1 and 2 are elongated, rigid, and act jointly to pierce the host’s cuticle, to inject the poison glands secretion, and to deposit eggs. Valve 3 covers the other valves, giving them protection. Valve 3 also presents annulations in all its extension, which gives flexibility to the ovipositor, and trichoid sensilla that possibly capture vibrations from the host’s feeding and locomotion, thereby aiding the parasite in the host selection. The presence of cuticular microtrichia was possibly responsible for the cleaning of the ovipositor, keeping it functional between the various insertions that occur during the parasitism behavior. The parasitoid’s antennae are filliform-like, measure about 2 mm, and are composed of four types of sensilla (trichoids, basiconical, coeloconical, and placodes) that act as olfactory and gustatory receptors and/or express tactile, thermo,- and hygroreception functions. The integrated action of these sensory components corroborates the successful parasitism behavior of the parasitoid B. vulgaris.

Parasitoid-host interaction: sensory structures involved in the parasitism behavior of Bracon vulgaris (Hymenoptera: Braconidae)

in Animal Biology

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References

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Figures

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    Sequence of events related to parasitism behavior of Bracon vulgaris upon Anthonomus grandis: (A) After release, the female wasp remains still (static/stop); (B) The wasp moves towards the vegetal structure, searching for the host (host searching); (C) After contacting the cotton square, the wasp starts grooming; (D) The wasp evaluates the physiological condition (suitability) of the host and its precise location within the cotton square (probing), and (E) The wasp begins oviposition (host acceptance). (F) After parasitism, the female wasp remains inactive on the cotton square (resting).

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    Scanning electron micrographs of an antenna from a B. vulgaris female. (A) General appearance. Scale bar: 1 mm. (B) Antennal segment detail: scape, pedicel, and flageromeres. Scale bar: 200 μm. (C) Note predominance of trichoid sensilla and layout of basiconical sensilla distally distributed in flageromeres. Scale bar: 200 μm. (D) Third flageromere highlighting the presence of coeloconical sensilla and its lateral location. Scale bar: 30 μm. (E) Trichoid and placode sensilla. Observe the morphology and extension of the placode sensilla, the groove that encircles them, and the cuticular crest around them. Scale bar: 30 μm. (F) Terminal region of the last flageromere; observe the diversity and arrangement of sensilla on the structure. Scale bar: 30 μm. Abbreviations and symbols: E, scape, F, flagelomere; P, pedicel; Sb, basiconical sensilla; St, trichoid sensilla; asterisk, placoid sensilla; arrow, coeloconical sensilla; arrowhead, basal insertion in the trichoid sensilla; dashed arrow, detail of the longitudinal grooves in the trichoid sensilla.

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    Details of the antennal sensilla of B. vulgaris. (A) Coeloconical sensilla. Scale bar: 2 μm. (B) Placode sensilla. Scale bar: 5 μm. (C) Basiconical sensilla. Scale bar: 10 μm. (D) Insertion of the basiconical sensilla in flagellomeres. Scale bar: 2 μm. (E) Trichoid sensilla. Scale bar: 5 μm. (F) Morphology and thickness of terminations in basiconical and trichoid sensilla. Scale bar: 5 μm. Abbreviations and symbols: ISb, inserting the basiconical sensilla; Sb, basiconical sensilla; St, trichoid sensilla; asterisk, placode sensilla, arrow, coeloconica sensilla, arrowhead, basal insertion of trichoid sensilla with flexible projection.

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    Electron micrographs of the B. vulgaris ovipositor. (A) General appearance of ovipositor, third valve (V3) or sheath in detail. Scale bar: 1 mm. (B) First and second valves (V1 and V2). Scale bar: 300 μm. (C) Terminal region of valves 1 and 2 in detail, note the juxtaposition of these structures and their morphological divergence and size. Scale bar: 100 μm. (D) V3 dorsal region, observe the unequal subdivisions that add flexibility to the structure. Scale bar: 50 μm. (E) Trichoid sensilla present in the V3 terminal region. Scale bar: 30 μm. (F) Sheath ventral region, observe numerous microtrichia at the apex of the structure. Scale bar: 100 μm. Abbreviations and symbols: S, serrations; Stc, short trichoid sensilla; Stl, long trichoid sensilla; star, microtrichia.

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