Cocoon silk chemistry in parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonoidea)and their hosts
Quicke, D. L. J.
Shaw, Mark R
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Bulk amino acid compositions of larval cocoon silks of 24 species of ichneumonoid parasitic wasps, representing 13 subfamilies that kill the host in a larval or prepupal stage, are compared with those of their hosts to test the hypothesis that amino acid compositions of major protein products should, in certain cases, be similar on energetic grounds. Although substantial variation in amino acid composition was found among both parasitoids and hosts, suggesting the production of different types of silks, no significant general matching was detected. However, the trend in the degree of similarity observed was in the direction predicted by a priori consideration of the nature of the parasitoid – host association. Lack of a general association may be explained by the very simple silk glands of the parasitic wasps and by the fact that, in most cases, their hosts are not completely consumed at a time when they are likely to contain any large reserves of silk proteins. The three species of Cotesia (Braconidae: Microgastrinae) investigated stood out in that their silks showed considerable interspecific variation in molar percentage amino acid composition, and this might be associated with their apparent utilization of -helical silks rather than fibroins