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Biol Lett. 2012 Apr 23;8(2):230-3. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0725. Epub 2011 Aug 24.

Defence strategies against a parasitoid wasp in Drosophila: fight or flight?

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Biology Department, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Hosts may defend themselves against parasitism through a wide variety of defence mechanisms, but due to finite resources, investment in one defence mechanism may trade-off with investment in another mechanism. We studied resistance strategies against the parasitoid wasp Leptopilina boulardi in two Drosophila species. We found that D. melanogaster had significantly lower physiological resistance against L. boulardi than D. simulans, and hypothesized that D. melanogaster might instead invest more heavily in other forms of defence, such as behavioural defence. We found that when given a choice between clean oviposition sites and sites infested with wasps, both D. melanogaster and D. simulans detected and avoided infested sites, which presumably limits later exposure of their offspring to infection. Unlike D. simulans, however, D. melanogaster laid significantly fewer eggs than controls in the forced presence of wasps. Our findings suggest that D. melanogaster relies more heavily on behavioural avoidance as defence against wasp parasitism than D. simulans, and that this may compensate for a lack of physiological defence.

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