Title

Genetics of oviposition success of a thelytokous fairyfly parasitoid, Anagrus delicatus

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-1996

Abstract

The foraging behaviour of the salt-marsh parasitoid, Anagrus delicatus (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae), is distinguished by few eggs laid per patch of hosts and frequent dispersal among patches. We investigated the within-population genetic variability in six quantitative traits associated with this unusual behaviour: fecundity (lifetime number of eggs), time on a patch, number of ovipositions per patch, oviposition rate, ovipositor length and tibia length (a measure of body size). Forty-one wasp isolines were initiated from single parthenogenetic females from three isolated salt marshes, and were maintained for up to eight generations in the greenhouse. We estimated the genetic variance and broad-sense heritability (h2) of these traits and tested trait means for differences among isolines (genetic variation) and sites (geographical variation). We found significant genetic variability among isolines for all traits except oviposition rate. The behavioural and morphological traits had similar levels of genetic variance, indicating that the evolvability (ability to respond to selection) of the traits is similarly high. However, the behavioural traits had higher residual variances, resulting in lower heritabilities. Only two traits had significant heritabilities. Fecundity, which is probably a good proxy for fitness, ceteris paribus, varied from on average 26 to 40 eggs per isoline and had the highest h2, 0.47±0.16 (mean±SE). Ovipositor length had an h2 of 0.36±0.17. These results suggest that the traits comprising the foraging strategy of A. delicatus should be amenable to selection (e.g. isolines could be selected that lay more eggs per host patch and consequently visit fewer patches). Genetic correlations among traits were numerous and positive. One important prediction from these data is that selection for larger wasps will result in large offspring with greater egg loads and higher oviposition rates. Wasps with this combination of attributes are likely to be more efficient natural enemies for use in biological control. In addition, there was no significant divergence (genetic or otherwise) in wasp morphology or behaviour among the three sites, even though they were separated by 8 km or more. © 1996 The Genetical Society of Great Britain.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Heredity

First Page

43

Last Page

54

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