Micro-climate correlations and conserved sexual dimorphism of cuticular hydrocarbons in European populations of the jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis

Jan Buellesbach*, Wenwen Diao, Thomas Schmitt, Leo W. Beukeboom

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

1 Citaat (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


1. Protection against desiccation and chemical communication are two fundamental functions of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) in insects. In the parasitoid jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis (Walker), characterised by a cosmopolitan distribution through largely different environments, CHCs function as universally recognised female sex pheromones. However, CHC uniformity as basis for sexual recognition may conflict with the desiccation protection function, expected to display considerable flexibility through adaptation to different environmental conditions. 2. We compared male and female CHC profiles of N. vitripennis across a wide latitudinal gradient in Europe and correlated their CHC variation with climatic factors associated with desiccation. Additionally, we tested male mate discrimination behaviour between populations to detect potential variations in female sexual attractiveness. 3. Results did not conform to the general expectation that longer, straight-chain CHCs occur in higher proportions in warmer and drier climates. Instead, unexpected environmental correlations of intermediate chain-length CHCs (C31) were found exclusively in females, potentially reflecting the different life histories of the sexes in N. vitripennis. 4. Furthermore, we found no indication of population-specific male mate preference, confirming the stability of female sexual attractiveness, likely conveyed through their CHC profiles. C31 mono- and C33 di-methyl-branched alkanes were consistently and most strongly associated with sexual dimorphism, suggesting their potential role in encoding the female-specific sexual signalling function. 5. Our study sheds light on how both adaptive flexibility and conserved sexual attractiveness can potentially be integrated and encoded in CHC profiles of N. vitripennis females across a wide distribution range in Europe.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)38-51
Aantal pagina's14
TijdschriftEcological entomology
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
StatusPublished - feb.-2022

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