Using parthenogenesis-inducing Wolbachia for the selection of optimal lines of the egg parasitoid Trichogramma pretiosum for use in biocontrol

Valeh Ebrahimi, Ahmad Ashouri, Paul F. Rugman-Jones, Amelia R.I. Lindsey, Mohammad Javan-Nikkhah, Richard Stouthamer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Trichogramma wasps (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) are egg parasitoids commonly employed in augmentative biological control releases against a variety of mainly lepidopteran pests. By exploiting the mechanism by which the endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia induces parthenogenesis in this genus, we created a set of completely homozygous Wolbachia-infected recombinant isofemale lines (RILs), each consisting of a different combination of the genome of two well-characterized lines of Trichogramma pretiosum Riley. We subsequently use 16 of these RILs to investigate the effect of genetic variation on various measures associated with offspring production under laboratory conditions. Unsurprisingly, substantial differences were found between the RILs in their propensity to parasitize hosts, the number of hosts they parasitize, and the levels of mortality in their offspring. Such measures can be used to choose an optimal line for biological control purposes. A method was also developed to characterize the 16 RILs using their allelic state at five loci. Essentially, this binary system uses high-resolution melt analysis to resolve identity at each locus, with alleles originating from either the grandmaternal or grandpaternal line, and is such that each RIL can be distinguished from each other RIL by their allelic state at one or more loci. The method facilitates the easy diagnosis of line origin when two or more lines are competing with each other in competition assays, allowing for the design of more complicated tests of parasitoid quality. Future field experiments will determine which genetic line performs best under more realistic biological control conditions. The fact that these lines are infected with parthenogenesis-inducing Wolbachia will allow for prolonged rearing without appreciable change in their genetic makeup, which should lead to a predictable biological control performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture NIFA 194617 to R.S. and V.E. was supported in part by the Department of Entomology of the University of Tehran.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Netherlands Entomological Society


  • Hymenoptera
  • Trichogrammatidae
  • biological control
  • genetic variation
  • high-resolution melt curves
  • inundative biological control
  • mass rearing


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