Oecologia

, Volume 178, Issue 4, pp 1017–1032

Species differences in bumblebee immune response predict developmental success of a parasitoid fly

  • Staige E. Davis
  • Rosemary L. Malfi
  • T’ai H. Roulston
Physiological ecology - Original research

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-015-3292-8

Cite this article as:
Davis, S.E., Malfi, R.L. & Roulston, T.H. Oecologia (2015) 178: 1017. doi:10.1007/s00442-015-3292-8

Abstract

Endoparasitoids develop inside the body of a host organism and, if successful, eventually kill their host in order to reach maturity. Host species can vary in their suitability for a developing endoparasitoid; in particular, the host immune response, which can suppress egg hatching and larval development, has been hypothesized to be one of the most important determinants of parasitoid host range. In this study, we investigated whether three bumblebee host species (Bombus bimaculatus, Bombus griseocollis, and Bombus impatiens) varied in their suitability for the development of a shared parasitoid, the conopid fly (Conopidae, Diptera) and whether the intensity of host encapsulation response, an insect immune defense against invaders, could predict parasitoid success. When surgically implanted with a nylon filament, B. griseocollis exhibited a stronger immune response than both B. impatiens and B. bimaculatus. Similarly, B. griseocollis was more likely to melanize conopid larvae from natural infections and more likely to kill conopids prior to its own death. Our results indicate that variation in the strength of the general immune response of insects may have ecological implications for sympatric species that share parasites. We suggest that, in this system, selection for a stronger immune response may be heightened by the pattern of phenological overlap between local host species and the population peak of their most prominent parasitoid.

Keywords

Host-parasitoid interaction Host suitability Encapsulation response Conopid fly Bombus 

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1850 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Staige E. Davis
    • 1
  • Rosemary L. Malfi
    • 1
  • T’ai H. Roulston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA