Effects of the polydnavirus of Cotesia congregata on the immune system and development of non-habitual hosts of the parasitoid

N. Lovallo, B. A. McPheron, D. L. Cox-Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Polydnaviruses (PDV) are obligate mutualistic symbionts found in association with some groups of parasitic Hymenoptera. In these groups, they suppress the immune response of the parasitoid's host and are required for successful parasitoid reproduction. Several PDV effects have been described in different experimental systems, but no clear picture of PDV mode of immunosuppression has emerged. No study to date has directly tested if PDV modes of action are evolutionarily conserved or divergent among parasitoid taxa within the Ichneumonoidea. We hypothesize the divergence in PDV mode of immunosuppression can be detected by identifying points of divergence in the immune response of different host species to PDV from one parasitoid species. This study tests the effects of purified PDV from Cotesia congregata on the immune response of three larval lepidopteran species that naturally are hosts of parasitoid species that differ in taxonomic relatedness to C. congregata. Here we demonstrate that despite associations with distantly related parasitoids (Ichneumonidae and Braconidae), Manduca sexta and Hetiothis virescens showed similar patterns of increased glucose dehydrogenase (GLD) activity, suppressed cellular encapsulation in vitro, and increased time to pupation. In contrast, Lymantria dispar showed no response to C. congregata PDV across any of the parameters measured, even though it has an evolutionary association with several parasitoids closely related to C. congregata and within the Microgastrinae. The PDV immunosuppression in H. virescens and M. sexta does not correlate with host molecular phylogeny either. The suborganismal effects shown in M. sexta and H. virescens translated into significantly reduced pupation success in M. sexta only. Results demonstrate that while some PDV modes of immunosuppression in hosts may be divergent, others may be conserved across broad host groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-526
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of the polydnavirus of Cotesia congregata on the immune system and development of non-habitual hosts of the parasitoid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this