There are wasps that lay eggs on a host insect, such as a caterpillar, and once their eggs are hatched they eat the host. These wasps are an example of insect parasitoids. They rely mainly on chemical substances for communication to locate and recognize both their mates and their hosts.
The purpose of this ARI project was to find the relationship of the unknown species. Chemical cues are highly likely and important in mate recognition and the several actions involved in relationships can be used to separate the unknown species.
Phases of this project included:
- Observing, studying, and comparing the unknown relationship of the wasp, M. Hawaiiensis with the wasp M. Australica on a Fresno State research field.
- Recording the responses of the female species within the known species group to cues that are released by some of their natural hosts (pollinating bees) using an odor detecting device called an olfactometer.
- Presenting the experiment results by two Fresno State Department of Plant Science students, Sarah Parry and Dakota Camino, working with Principal Investigator Dr. Jorge Gonzalez.
“We are sort of building an evolutionary tree of the Melittobia species based on our findings in chemical communications and the hosts used by the parasitoids,” said Dr. Gonzalez.
Knowledge about the nature of the relationships of the host selection is beneficial because it can provide the key to understanding the species relationships where the shapes and features are currently unknown.
There is a clear influence by the host and there is chemical communication among the wasps (both sexes). A preliminary draft has been in the works and collaborators from other Universities in Holland and Japan are working on the meaning of that communication.
This project was funded by ARI and a full report can be found at:
Principal Investigator: Jorge Gonzalez
Written By: Courtney Meinhold