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Effects of sugar feeding on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in a parasitoid wasp


George E. Heimpel, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA. Tel: + 1 612 624 3480/625 7055; fax: +1 612 625 5299; e-mail:


Lifetime patterns of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism were compared in starved and sucrose-fed adults of the parasitoid Macrocentrus grandii (Goidanich) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). As expected, sucrose-fed individuals lived longer than did starved individuals. Macrocentrus grandii males and females eclosed with levels of simple storage sugars (presumably primarily trehalose) and glycogen that were below maximum levels recorded from sucrose-fed parasitoids. Both of these nutrients dropped to very low levels in starved individuals within 4 days post-emergence and were maintained at high levels in sucrose-fed individuals throughout their lives. Lipid reserves at emergence represented the highest lipid levels for both sexes in the two diet treatments, with levels declining over the lifetimes of males and females from both diet treatments. Our results therefore suggest that dietary sucrose is used to synthesize trehalose and glycogen, but not lipids in M. grandii. Also, in contrast to the patterns observed for the simple sugars and glycogen, lipid levels in starved individuals did not drop below levels observed in sugar-fed individuals. The average number of mature eggs carried by females at emergence was 33 and increased to approximately 85 in sucrose-fed and 130 in starved females by the age of 5 d in the absence of hosts. The egg maturation rate was therefore higher in starved than in sugar-fed females. Potential explanations for this unexpected result are discussed.