The Drosophila-parasitizing wasp Leptopilina heterotoma: A comprehensive model system in ecology and evolution

Ecol Evol. 2023 Jan 23;13(1):e9625. doi: 10.1002/ece3.9625. eCollection 2023 Jan.


The parasitoid Leptopilina heterotoma has been used as a model system for more than 70 years, contributing greatly to diverse research areas in ecology and evolution. Here, we synthesized the large body of work on L. heterotoma with the aim to identify new research avenues that could be of interest also for researchers studying other parasitoids and insects. We start our review with a description of typical L. heterotoma characteristics, as well as that of the higher taxonomic groups to which this species belongs. We then continue discussing host suitability and immunity, foraging behaviors, as well as fat accumulation and life histories. We subsequently shift our focus towards parasitoid-parasitoid interactions, including L. heterotoma coexistence within the larger guild of Drosophila parasitoids, chemical communication, as well as mating and population structuring. We conclude our review by highlighting the assets of L. heterotoma as a model system, including its intermediate life history syndromes, the ease of observing and collecting natural hosts and wasps, as well as recent genomic advances.

Keywords: associative learning; endosymbiont; fitness; host‐parasitoid community; lipids; sex pheromones; virulence.

Publication types

  • Review