Transient host paralysis as a means of reducing self-superparasitism in koinobiont endoparasitoids

Nicolas Desneux, Ruth J. Barta, Camille J. Delebecque, George E. Heimpel

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46 Scopus citations


The term 'idiobiont' refers to those parasitoid species that permanently paralyse their hosts during parasitism, causing the cessation of host growth and development. This is in contrast to koinobiont parasitoids, which allow their hosts to continue developing after being parasitized. While no koinobiont species induce permanent paralysis in their hosts, a minority of koinobionts induce a temporary paralysis that does not interfere with overall host growth and development. We characterized transient paralysis induction in two koinobiont aphid parasitoids in the genus Binodoxys (Hymenoptera: Aphidiinae). Both Binodoxys species induced transient paralysis in Aphis glycines, with paralysis time ranging between 4.5 and 8 min (depending upon parasitoid species and host instar). In a separate experiment, B. communis was capable of inducing transient paralysis in nine aphid species. We addressed two hypotheses potentially explaining the adaptive value of temporary host paralysis in experiments using A. nerii, which is readily accepted but engages in strong defensive behaviour. The first hypothesis is that paralysis increases oviposition success by interfering with host defences and the second is that it aids in the avoidance of self-superparasitism. Paralysed aphids were more likely to be rejected by B. communis than were aphids that had never been stung or that had recovered from paralysis. This result supports the avoidance-of-self-superparasitism hypothesis and is inconsistent with the hypothesis that transient paralysis increases oviposition success of B. communis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-327
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank James Whitfield for comments on the manuscript, and Laura Stone for technical assistance. This work was funded in part by USDA-RAMP, in part by the North Central Soybean Research Council, and in part by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.


  • Aphid parasitoid
  • Aphis nerii
  • Binodoxys communis
  • Idiobiont
  • Koinobiont
  • Oviposition
  • Soybean aphid
  • Superparasitism


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