Phenotypic plasticity in the reproductive traits of a parasitoid.

Martel, V., Darrouzet, E., and Boivin, G. (2011). "Phenotypic plasticity in the reproductive traits of a parasitoid.", Journal of Insect Physiology, 57(6), pp. 682-687. doi : 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2011.01.018  Access to full text


Organisms show phenotypic plasticity - the capacity for a given genotype to express different phenotypes - in response to changes in the environment. Among the several factors that can cause phenotypic plasticity, nutritional constraints during development can affect the size of organisms and, consequently, affect most life-history traits, including reproductive traits. As their larvae are restricted by the amount of food contained in their host, parasitoids are a good model to study phenotypic plasticity related to size. The phenotypic plasticity of reproductive traits was investigated in the egg parasitoid Trichogramma euproctidis (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) by using host species of different sizes. Adult size, sperm storage organs (seminal vesicles and spermatheca), number of sperm stored and gamete size (sperm and oocyte) are all influenced by the host species; larger individuals have larger organs which contain more sperm, and both sperm and oocytes are correlated with adult size. However, while females become larger than males and mature larger oocytes in larger hosts, increase in sperm length stops after a given threshold.

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