Evidence for trans-generational effects on egg maturation schedules in a syn-ovigenic parasitoid

Yael Keinan, Tamar Keasar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lifetime reproductive success of a female parasitoid is limited by (1) host (or time) limitation – the number of hosts available for oviposition during its lifetime; and (2) egg limitation – its egg supply. Host limitation is expected to select for increased longevity and/or foraging efficiency, while increased fecundity is predicted to evolve under egg limitation. If the limiting factor varies, phenotypic plasticity in egg maturation schedules may be advantageous, i.e. adjusting investment in egg production to host availability. In the polyembryonic parasitoid Copidosoma koehleri, environmental conditions experienced during development indeed influence resource allocation to egg maturation. However, whether parasitoids’ maternal environment also influences their daughters’ egg production has hardly been studied. To address this knowledge gap, we tested whether exposure of C. koehleri females to previously parasitized hosts (signaling intraspecific exploitation competition and risk of host limitation) reduces their daughters’ initial egg loads. We presented newly-emerged females with hosts that were either fresh or parasitized by conspecifics. The following day, we exposed both groups to additional fresh hosts, and reared out the daughters of these previously experienced, 24+ h old, individuals. The daughters’ egg loads and body sizes were similar under both experimental conditions. Nevertheless, their egg loads were ~30% higher, and body sizes were ~10% lower, than in daughters of just-emerged parasitoids. We suggest that female experience or age, but not conditions associated with host exploitation, trigger maternal effects on the reproductive and developmental physiology of their daughters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103910
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation , grant no. 414/10 to TK. We thank Michal Segoli for helpful comments on the manuscript, and Nina Dinov for rearing the insects in the lab.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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