The metabolomics of host-parasitoid interactions
Snart, Charles J.P. (2015) The metabolomics of host-parasitoid interactions. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
This thesis examines the relationship between insect life history and behavioural decisions and underlying cellular biochemistry, with particular focus on bethylid parasitoid wasps in the genus Goniozus. This comprises the first major body of work attempting to draw links between the underlying metabolome of an organism and its behaviour. This thesis further optimised the first known example of a combined LC-MS and NMR metabolomic approach capable of analysing extremely low biomass samples (<1 mg), a vital requirement when studying the behaviour of individual organisms. Part 1 of this thesis details the optimisation and validation of this metabolomic approach, whilst also examining the effects of aging on the metabolome of adult Goniozus wasps. Part 2 applies this approach to examine the effects of diet, host species and host aging on Goniozus wasp behaviour and biochemistry. Comparisons of the metabolomes of starved and honey fed wasps indicate that G. legneri is capable of utilising a carbohydrate rich diet as an energy source. Aged honey fed wasps possessed higher levels of large storage lipids, such as tri- and diacylglycerides, than starved wasps of the same age. Metabolomic analysis also detected a legacy effect on the metabolome of G. legneri associated with differences in the species of host each wasp was reared on. A similar legacy effect was confirmed when examining the metabolomes of wasps reared on artificially aged hosts. Whilst Goniozus wasp oviposition behaviour was altered by the species of host presented, no links between changes in a wasp’s metabolome and its resulting contest behaviour were found. Part 3 of this thesis examines the morphological, behavioural and chemical mimicry of another wasp, the hyperparasitoid Gelis agilis. G. agilis demonstrated an enhanced predation avoidance rate compared with control species, similar to that of the black garden ant Lasius niger. Agitation of G. agilis also resulted in the chemical emission of a known ant alarm pheromone.
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