Researches on Population Ecology

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 29–37

A genetic perspective on mating systems and sex ratios of parasitoid wasps

  • Michael F. Antolin
Special Feature

DOI: 10.1007/PL00011979

Cite this article as:
Antolin, M. Res Popul Ecol (1999) 41: 29. doi:10.1007/PL00011979


Parasitoid sex ratios are influenced by mating systems, whether complete inbreeding, partial inbreeding, complete inbreeding avoidance, or production of all-male broods by unmated females. Population genetic theory demonstrates that inbreeding is possible in haplodiploids because the purging of deleterious and lethal mutations through haploid males reduces inbreeding depression. However, this purging does not act quickly for deleterious mutations or female-limited traits (e.g., fecundity, host searching, sex ratio). The relationship between sex ratio, inbreeding, and inbreeding depression has not been explored in depth in parasitoids. The gregarious egg parasitoid, Trichogramma pretiosum Riley, collected from Riverside, CA (USA) produced a female-biased sex ratio of 0.24 (proportion of males). Six generations of sibling mating in the laboratory uncovered considerable inbreeding depression (∼ 20%) in fecundity and sex ratio. A population genetic study (based upon allozymes) showed the population was inbred (Fit = 0.246), which corresponds to 56.6% sib-mating. However, average relatedness among females emerging from the same host egg was only 0.646, which is less than expected (0.75) if ovipositing females mate randomly. This lower relatedness could arise from inbreeding avoidance, multiple mating by females, or superparasitism. A review of the literature in general shows relatively low inbreeding depression in haplodiploid species, but indicates that inbreeding depression can be as high as that found in Drosophila. Finally, mating systems and inbreeding depression are thought to evolve in concert (in plants), but similar dynamic models of the joint evolution of sex ratio, mating systems, and inbreeding depression have not been developed for parasitoid wasps.

Key wordsTrichogramma pretiosumHymenopteraInbreeding depressionPopulation genetics

Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer-Verlag Tokyo 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael F. Antolin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA Tel. +1-970-491-1911; Fax +1-970-491-0649 e-mail: antolin@lamar.colostate.eduUS