Does Drosophila sechellia escape parasitoid attack by feeding on a toxic resource?

Laura Salazar-Jaramillo*, Bregje Wertheim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Host shifts can drastically change the selective pressures that animals experience from their environment. Drosophila sechellia is a species restricted to the Seychelles islands, where it specializes on the fruit Morinda citrifolia (noni). This fruit is known to be toxic to closely related Drosophila species, including D. melanogaster and D. simulans, releasing D. sechellia from interspecific competition when breeding on this substrate. Previously, we showed that larvae of D. sechellia are unable to mount an effective immunological response against wasp attack, while larvae of closely-related species can defend themselves from parasitoid attack by melanotic encapsulation. We hypothesized that this inability constitutes a trait loss due to a reduced risk of parasitoid attack in noni. Here we present a lab experiment and field survey aimed to test the hypothesis that specialization on noni has released D. sechellia from the antagonistic interaction with its larval parasitoids. Our results from the lab experiment suggest that noni may be harmful to parasitoid wasps. Our results from the field survey indicate that D. sechellia was found in ripe noni, whereas another Drosophila species, D. malerkotliana, was present in unripe and overripe stages. Parasitic wasps of the species Leptopilina boulardi emerged from overripe noni, where D. malerkotliana was the most abundant host, but not from ripe noni. These results indicate that the specialization of D. sechellia on noni has indeed drastically altered its ecological interactions, leading to a relaxation in the selection pressure to maintain parasitoid resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10528
Number of pages15
JournalPeerJ
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6-Jan-2021

Keywords

  • Drosophila sechellia
  • Parasitoid wasps
  • Host shift
  • Trait loss
  • Noni
  • SYMPATRIC HOST RACES
  • MORINDA-CITRIFOLIA
  • ECOLOGICAL SPECIALIZATION
  • RHAGOLETIS-POMONELLA
  • GENETIC-BASIS
  • EVOLUTION
  • PLANT
  • RESISTANCE
  • HISTORY
  • ENCAPSULATION

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