Adult parasitoids of honeydew-producing insects prefer honeydew sugars to cover their energetic needs

Lenaerts, Marijke and Abid, Lamis and Paulussen, Caroline and Goelen, Tim and Wackers, Felix Leopold and Jacquemyn, Hans and Lievens, Bart (2016) Adult parasitoids of honeydew-producing insects prefer honeydew sugars to cover their energetic needs. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 42 (10). pp. 1028-1036. ISSN 0098-0331

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To meet their carbohydrate requirements, adult parasitoids exploit a broad range of sugar resources, including floral and extrafloral nectar and honeydew. Although honeydew might be the predominant sugar source, especially in agricultural systems, it often is nutritionally inferior to sugar sources like nectar. Given its broad availability, it may be expected that sugar-feeding insects have evolved specialized adaptations to deal with this typically inferior sugar source. This would apply especially to organisms that have a close association with honeydew producers. Here, we hypothesized that parasitoids of honeydew-producing insects should show a pronounced response to sugars, such as fructose, sucrose, melezitose, and trehalose, and to a lesser extent glucose. To test this hypothesis, we investigated sugar consumption, feeding behavior and survival of the aphid parasitoid Aphidius ervi on several sugars (equiweight solutions). Our results show that A. ervi adults consumed typical honeydew sugars (sucrose, fructose, trehalose, and melezitose) the most, while consuming considerably less glucose or melibiose. Rhamnose, which does not occur in aphid honeydew, was not, or was only marginally, consumed. When different sugars were provided at the same time, A. ervi adults preferred sucrose or fructose over glucose or melezitose. Furthermore, pre-exposure to sucrose or fructose significantly reduced subsequent intake of glucose, suggesting an acquired distaste for glucose after being previously exposed to highly preferred sugars such as sucrose and fructose. Altogether, this study shows that A. ervi adults prefer sugars (fructose, melezitose, trehalose, and sucrose) that are overrepresented in aphid honeydew and show a lower preference to one (glucose) that is underrepresented in honeydew.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Chemical Ecology
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24 Nov 2016 14:48
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16 Sep 2023 01:26