Trichogramma parasitoids alter the metabolic physiology of Manduca eggs

Kristen A. Potter, H. Arthur Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Egg parasitoids face unique developmental constraints. First, they have exceptionally limited resources to support themselves and their siblings through three life stages. Second, they develop within the physiological system of another species, which they modify to their own ends. We examined how these constraints affect the metabolic physiology of egg parasitism, and whether parasitoids retool their host eggshell to account for their different metabolic demands. Higher-conductance eggshells allow more oxygen to reach the developing parasitoids, but also allow more water to leave the egg. We used Manduca sexta (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) eggs and Trichogramma (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) parasitoids from southeastern AZ, USA. Compared with unparasitized Manduca eggs, eggs parasitized by Trichogramma had lower peak metabolic rates and approximately 50 per cent lower metabolic efficiency. However, developing Trichogramma were far more efficient than typical transfer efficiencies between tropic levels (approx. 10%). Even within a few hours of parasitization, eggs containing more Trichogramma had lower per-parasitoid metabolic rates, suggesting that parasitoid larvae have mechanisms for rapidly adjusting their metabolic rates based on number of siblings. Parasitoids also appear to control the conductance of their host eggshell: their different metabolic demands were mirrored by shifts in rates of water loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3572-3576
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1742
StatePublished - 2012


  • Efficiency
  • Idiobiont
  • Manduca sexta
  • Metabolism
  • Trophic transfer
  • Water balance


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