Venomics of the ectoparasitoid wasp Bracon nigricans

BMC Genomics. 2020 Jan 10;21(1):34. doi: 10.1186/s12864-019-6396-4.


Background: Venom is one of the most important sources of regulation factors used by parasitic Hymenoptera to redirect host physiology in favour of the developing offspring. This has stimulated a number of studies, both at functional and "omics" level, which, however, are still quite limited for ectophagous parasitoids that permanently paralyze and suppress their victims (i.e., idiobiont parasitoids).

Results: Here we present a combined transcriptomic and proteomic study of the venom of the generalist idiobiont wasp Bracon nigricans, an ectophagous larval parasitoid of different lepidopteran species, for which we recently described the host regulation strategy and the functional role of the venom in the induction of physiological changes in parasitized hosts. The experimental approach used led to the identification of the main components of B. nigricans venom involved in host regulation. Enzymes degrading lipids, proteins and carbohydrates are likely involved in the mobilization of storage nutrients from the fat body and may concurrently be responsible for the release of neurotoxic fatty acids inducing paralysis, and for the modulation of host immune responses.

Conclusion: The present work contributes to fill the gap of knowledge on venom composition in ectoparasitoid wasps, and, along with our previous physiological study on this species, provides the foundation on which to develop a functional model of host regulation, based both on physiological and molecular data. This paves the way towards a better understanding of parasitism evolution in the basal lineages of Hymenoptera and to the possible exploitation of venom as source of bioinsecticidal molecules.

Keywords: Host regulation; Host-parasitoid interactions; Idiobiont parasitoids; Venom proteome; Venom transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Proteomics
  • Transcriptome / genetics
  • Wasp Venoms / genetics
  • Wasp Venoms / metabolism*
  • Wasps / genetics
  • Wasps / metabolism*


  • Insect Proteins
  • Wasp Venoms