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Longevity and fecundity of Eulophus pennicornis, an ectoparasitoid of the tomato moth Lacanobia oleracea, is affected by nutritional state and diet quality

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• Adult female Eulophus pennicornis require a source of nutrition, provided by sources such as pollen, nectar and honeydew or by host feeding, to promote longevity and facilitate egg production. There is potential for parasitoids to be exposed directly to contaminants, including gene products in transgenic crops, through feeding on plant materials, honeydew or hosts. Among such potential contaminants are lectins such as Galanthus nivalis agglutinin (GNA) and concanavalin agglutinin (Con A).

• The effect of direct exposure to honey diets containing GNA and Con A on the longevity and fecundity of E. pennicornis was examined. These lectins have been expressed in a number of plant species for the control for various insect pests. Both GNA and Con A significantly reduced longevity and fecundity at the highest concentration used (0.5% w/v). The effect on fecundity was shown to be related to a reduction in longevity.

• Examination of the gustatory response of adult female E. pennicornis to honey diet containing 1% w/v GNA or Con A revealed no significant differences in consumption rate on first exposure. A significant reduction in the time spent feeding on diet containing 1% Con A was found on the second exposure to the diet. This could have been the result of either a conditioned aversion response or the intoxication of the insect. The effect of Con A on longevity and fecundity could have been, in part, a result of reduced food intake.

• Studies on nutrition and egg resorption demonstrated that the availability of honey solution prolongs the longevity of E. pennicornis and the lack of a source of nutrition promotes oosorption.

• A greater understanding of feeding behaviour and ovigeny is required to understand fully the potential ecological consequence of transgenic crops on parasitoid species through routes of direct exposure to transgene products.
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Keywords: Eulophidae; Hymenoptera; Lepidoptera; Noctuidae; genetically modified crops; insecticidal lectins; longevity; parasitoid fecundity; tritrophic interactions

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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