Bacteria Endosymbiont, Wolbachia, Promotes Parasitism of Parasitoid Wasp Asobara japonica

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 22;10(10):e0140914. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140914. eCollection 2015.


Wolbachia is the most widespread endosymbiotic bacterium that manipulates reproduction of its arthropod hosts to enhance its own spread throughout host populations. Infection with Wolbachia causes complete parthenogenetic reproduction in many Hymenoptera, producing only female offspring. The mechanism of such reproductive manipulation by Wolbachia has been extensively studied. However, the effects of Wolbachia symbiosis on behavioral traits of the hosts are scarcely investigated. The parasitoid wasp Asobara japonica is an ideal insect to investigate this because symbiotic and aposymbiotic strains are available: Wolbachia-infected Tokyo (TK) and noninfected Iriomote (IR) strains originally collected on the main island and southwest islands of Japan, respectively. We compared the oviposition behaviors of the two strains and found that TK strain females parasitized Drosophila melanogaster larvae more actively than the IR strain, especially during the first two days after eclosion. Removing Wolbachia from the TK strain wasps by treatment with tetracycline or rifampicin decreased their parasitism activity to the level of the IR strain. Morphological and behavioral analyses of both strain wasps showed that Wolbachia endosymbionts do not affect development of the host female reproductive tract and eggs, but do enhance host-searching ability of female wasps. These results suggest the possibility that Wolbachia endosymbionts may promote their diffusion and persistence in the host A. japonica population not only at least partly by parthenogenesis but also by enhancement of oviposition frequency of the host females.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / parasitology
  • Female
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / physiology
  • Male
  • Oviposition / physiology
  • Symbiosis / physiology
  • Wasps / microbiology*
  • Wolbachia / physiology*

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.