Systematic analysis of a wasp parasitism arsenal



Parasitoid wasps are among the most diverse insects on earth with many species causing major mortality in host populations. Parasitoids introduce a variety of factors into hosts to promote parasitism, including symbiotic viruses, venom, teratocytes and wasp larvae. Polydnavirus-carrying wasps use viruses to globally suppress host immunity and prevent rejection of developing parasites. Although prior results provide detailed insights into the genes viruses deliver to hosts, little is known about other products. RNAseq and proteomics were used to characterize the proteins secreted by venom glands, teratocytes and larvae from Microplitis demolitor, which carries M. demolitor bracovirus (MdBV). These data revealed that venom glands and teratocytes secrete large amounts of a small number of products relative to ovaries and larvae. Venom and teratocyte products exhibited almost no overlap with one another or MdBV genes, which suggested that M. demolitor effector molecules are functionally partitioned according to their source. This finding was well illustrated in the case of MdBV and teratocytes. Many viral proteins have immunosuppressive functions that include disruption of antimicrobial peptide production, yet this study showed that teratocytes express high levels of the antimicrobial peptide hymenoptaecin, which likely compensates for MdBV-mediated immunosuppression. A second key finding was the prevalence of duplications among genes encoding venom and teratocyte molecules. Several of these gene families share similarities with proteins from other species, while also showing specificity of expression in venom glands or teratocytes. Overall, these results provide the first comprehensive analysis of the proteins a polydnavirus-carrying wasp introduces into its host.