Brochosome influence on parasitisation efficiency of Homalodisca coagulata (Say) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) egg masses by Gonatocerus ashmeadi Girault (Hymenoptera : Mymaridae)

H.P. Velema, L. Hemerik, M.S. Hoddle, R.F. Luck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


1. Many cicadellid females in the tribe Proconiini (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) cover their egg masses with specialised, usually rod-shaped, brochosomes as the eggs are being laid. The brochosomes are produced in Golgi complexes in the Malpighian tubules of Cicadellidae. In contrast to the gravid females, adult males, pre-reproductive adult females, and nymphal males and females produce specialised, usually spherically shaped brochosomes. Brochosomes are also used to cover the external surfaces of nymphs and newly moulted adult males and females. 2. The function of the brochosome covering the egg masses is unknown but various hypotheses have been suggested, including protecting the eggs against pathogens, predators, and parasitoids. Based on preliminary observations of Gonatocerus ashmeadi Girault (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae) parasitising the eggs of the cicadellid, Homalodisca coagulata (Say), it is speculated here that brochosomes covering an egg mass hinder parasitisation of eggs by G. ashmeadi. This hypothesis was tested by observing G. ashmeadi females foraging on leaves with H. coagulata egg masses heavily covered with rod-shaped brochosomes vs. those lacking brochosomes. 3. Cox's proportional hazards model was used to evaluate the probability, per unit time, that a female G. ashmeadi displayed the sequence of behaviours that ended in successful oviposition as influenced by five variables: (a) presence or absence of brochosomes on an egg mass, (b) the leaf surface, upper or lower, being searched by the parasitoid (the egg masses are laid in the parenchyma on the lower leaf surface), (c) the parasitoid's previous ovipositional experience, (d) egg mass size, and (e) the parasitoid's age. 4. Brochosomes significantly decreased oviposition efficacy of G. ashmeadi females. Scanning electron microscopy showed that females exposed to brochosome-covered egg masses had brochosomes adhering to their tarsi, legs, antennae, and eyes, all of which prompted extensive bouts of grooming.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-496
Number of pages12
JournalEcological Entomology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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