Natural and artificial envenomation of Ceratitis capitata by Eupelmus urozonus and the search for new bioinsecticides

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This study was designed to indentify novel bioactive molecules in the venom of the parasitoid Eupelmus urozonus Dalman (Hymenoptera: Eupelmidae). Parasitism by E. urozonus induces apparent paralysis in the larvae of the host Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae) and it arrests the development of host pupae. Parasitoid eggs were transferred from stung to unparasitized host pupae to determine whether adult female stings or bites from the first instars were responsible for the above effects. The two treatments gave the same results, indicating that both parasitoid adults and larvae produced venoms capable to compromise host development. A protocol was developed to artificially microinject E. urozonus venom into healthy host pupae and adults at known concentrations to study the effects. The microinjection of venom was found to produce the same macroscopic result as natural parasitization, indicating that host developmental arrest was caused by molecules produced by the parasitoid venom glands. One-tenth, one-twentieth, and one-hundredth of the contents of a female venom reservoir was sufficient to compromise the development of 100, 90, and 50% of the microinjected host pupae, respectively. The microinjection of 0.1 female venom equivalents into host adults always caused death within 24 h. Extraction and freezing did not affect the activity of the E. urozonus venom, which facilitates its storage, whereas denaturation treatments demonstrated that the bioactive molecules were proteins. The venom was also found to prevent the hosts from decaying for over 2 weeks and it promoted the accumulation of unknown subspherical granules in the host haemocoel. These results suggest the potential identification of novel molecules with interesting biological activity with various possible applications. © 2014 The Netherlands Entomological Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250 - 258
Number of pages9
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science

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