The virus infecting the parasitoid Leptopilina boulardi exerts a specific action on superparasitism behaviour

  • Varaldi J
  • Petit S
  • Boulétreau M
 et al. 
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Parasites often induce behavioural changes in their host. However, it is not necessarily easy to determine whether these changes are representative of an adaptation of the parasite (parasite manipulation), an adaptive response of the host or a side-effect of infection. In a solitary parasitoid of Drosophila larvae (Leptopilina boulardi), viral particles (LbFV) modify the host acceptance behaviour of infected females by increasing their tendency to superparasitize. This behavioural alteration allows for the horizontal transmission of the virus within superparasitized Drosophila larvae. To add support for or against the 'manipulation hypothesis', we investigated whether other behavioural components of the parasitoid are affected by viral infection, and whether other forms of horizontal transmission exist. Neither the ability of females to locate host kairomones nor their daily rhythm of locomotor activity was affected by viral infection. However, infected females showed a lower rate of locomotor activity, suggesting a physiological cost of infection. The searching paths of females were also unaffected. Males from infected and uninfected lines showed the same ability to locate females'sexual pheromones. Moreover, alternative modes of horizontal transmission (through food consumption and/or contact with the same Drosophila larvae) did not lead to viral contamination of the parasitoid. The overall specificity of behavioural alteration and of viral horizontal transmission is consistent with the hypothesis that the virus manipulates the behaviour of the parasitoid.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cost of infection
  • Leptopilina
  • Manipulation of host behaviour
  • Parasite
  • Parasitoid
  • Superparasitism
  • Virus

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  • J. Varaldi

  • S. Petit

  • M. Boulétreau

  • F. Fleury

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