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. 2004 Jun 15;101(24):9029-32.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.0402480101. Epub 2004 Jun 1.

Plant-derived Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid Protects Eggs of a Moth (Utetheisa Ornatrix) Against a Parasitoid Wasp (Trichogramma Ostriniae)

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Plant-derived Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid Protects Eggs of a Moth (Utetheisa Ornatrix) Against a Parasitoid Wasp (Trichogramma Ostriniae)

Alexander Bezzerides et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA), sequestered by the moth Utetheisa ornatrix from its larval food plant, is transmitted by both males and females to the eggs. Males confer PA on the female by seminal infusion, and females pass this gift, together with PA that they themselves procured as larvae, to the eggs. Here we show that PA protects the eggs against parasitization by the chalcidoid wasp, Trichogramma ostriniae. Eggs laid subsequent to a first mating of an Utetheisa female receive most of their PA from the female. The amount they receive from the male is insufficient to provide for full protection. However, female Utetheisa are promiscuous and therefore likely to receive PA on a cumulative basis from their male partners.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Trichogramma on an egg of Utetheisa. The specimen was abruptly frozen and lyophilized in preparation for scanning electron microscopy.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Vulnerability of Utetheisa eggs to parasitization by Trichogramma. PA-laden eggs (solid columns) from the three tests (I-III) were exposed to the parasitoid as were their PA-free controls (open columns). The experimental eggs in tests I and II were endowed strictly by male-derived PA, obtained by the females from their first partners, and allocated to eggs laid either in the first 2 d after mating (test I) or in the subsequent 2 d (test II). Experimental eggs in test III received female-derived PA only. Three variables are plotted: incidence of hatching (B); incidence of parasitization (C); and PA content of the experimental eggs (D). For the eggs unexposed to Trichogramma (untreated controls), only hatching incidence is given (A).

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