Paternity analysis in an egg-carrying aquatic insect Appasus major (Hemiptera: Belostomatidae) using microsatellite DNA markers


Katsushige Inada, College of Science, Ibaraki University, Mito, Ibaraki 310-8512, Japan. Email:


The giant water bug Appasus major exhibits a peculiar reproductive behavior where females lay eggs on the backs of males. A male and female pair performs frequent repeat copulations during the oviposition behavior, and the male carries the deposited eggs until hatching. Such characteristic behaviors predict that the eggs are fertilized by the brooding males. If males carry eggs of other unrelated males, the egg carrying will drastically decrease the fitness of the carriers. In this study, we examined genetic relationships between the 489 eggs and nine males carrying them collected from the field, using microsatellite DNA markers. We revealed that in total, 28.4% of the eggs were of other male origin. This is the first report of frequent brood parasitism in an aquatic egg-carrying hemipteran insect. The brood parasitism is adaptive for the females probably because it enables them to increase the chance of oviposition, or it can equalize motility risk of the eggs of each mate.