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. 2018 Oct;44(10):894-904.
doi: 10.1007/s10886-018-0989-2. Epub 2018 Jul 31.

Ant-like Traits in Wingless Parasitoids Repel Attack From Wolf Spiders

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Free PMC article

Ant-like Traits in Wingless Parasitoids Repel Attack From Wolf Spiders

Jeffrey A Harvey et al. J Chem Ecol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

A recent study showed that a wingless parasitoid, Gelis agilis, exhibits a suite of ant-like traits that repels attack from wolf spiders. When agitated, G. agilis secreted 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one (sulcatone), which a small number of ant species produce as an alarm/panic pheromone. Here, we tested four Gelis parasitoid species, occurring in the same food chain and microhabitats, for the presence of sulcatone and conducted two-species choice bioassays with wolf spiders to determine their degree of susceptibility to attack. All four Gelis species, including both winged and wingless species, produced sulcatone, whereas a closely related species, Acrolyta nens, and the more distantly related Cotesia glomerata, did not. In two-choice bioassays, spiders overwhelmingly rejected the wingless Gelis species, preferring A. nens and C. glomerata. However, spiders exhibited no preference for either A. nens or G. areator, both of which are winged. Wingless gelines exhibited several ant-like traits, perhaps accounting for the reluctance of spiders to attack them. On the other hand, despite producing sulcatone, the winged G. areator more closely resembles other winged cryptines like A. nens, making it harder for spiders to distinguish between these two species. C. glomerata was also preferred by spiders over A. nens, suggesting that other non-sulcatone producing cryptines nevertheless possess traits that make them less attractive as prey. Phylogenetic reconstruction of the Cryptinae reveals that G. hortensis and G. proximus are 'sister'species, with G. agilis, and G.areator in particular evolving along more distant trajectories. We discuss the possibility that wingless Gelis species have evolved a suite of ant-like traits as a form, of mimicry to repel predators on the ground.

Keywords: Batesian mimicry; Müllerian mimicry; Chemical defense; Formica; Gelis; Hymenoptera; Lasius; Predation.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Photographs of male Gelis hortenis (top), G. proximus (middle) and a worker of the sympatric ant Lasius fuliginosus (bottom) showing morphological similarity of the gelines to ants. Moreover, when threatened, all three species secrete 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one (sulcatone) as a defensive alarm/panic pheromone
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Result of dual choice assays with wolf spiders for parasitoids and hyperparasitoids used in this study. Shaded section of the bars indicate percentage of the species of parasitoid that was attacked first by wolf spiders in the bioassays. Line bars represent 95% confidence intervals. Statistical significance of the results (P-values) are shown beside each two species choice
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
GC-MS depiction of volatile emissions including standard. GC-MS chromatogram of the main peak observed during agitation of different species of parasitoids and ants (n = 5 individuals per chamber). GC-MS chromatogram main peak observed during analysis of a prepared 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one standard. The standard peak is marginally to the left of the peak shown in the gelines and ants because of recalibration
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Phylogenetic reconstruction under maximum likelood criterion of geline COI barcodes in RAxML under GTR + GAMMA model with 1000 bootstraps and Diplazon laetatorius set as outgroup. Branch labels denote bootstrap support for the corresponding node. Newly generated barcodes from out study for Gelis agilis, G. areator, G. proximus, G. hortensis and Acrolyta nens are highlighted

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