How to escape from haller's rule: Olfactory system complexity in small and large Trichogramma evanescens parasitic wasps

Emma van der Woude*, Hans M. Smid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


While Haller's rule states that small animals have relatively larger brains, minute Trichogramma evanescens Westwood (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) parasitic wasps scale brain size linearly with body size. This linear brain scaling allows them to decrease brain size beyond the predictions of Haller's rule, and is facilitated by phenotypic plasticity in brain size. In the present study we addressed whether this plasticity resulted in adaptations to the complexity of the morphology of the olfactory system of small and large T. evanescens. We used confocal laser scanning microscopy to compare size and number of glomeruli in the antennal lobe in the brain, and scanning electron microscopy to compare length and number of olfactory sensilla on the antennae. The results show a similar level of complexity of the olfactory system morphology of small and large wasps. Wasps with a similar genotype but very different brain and body size have similarly sized olfactory sensilla and most of them occur in equal numbers on the antennae. Small and large wasps also have a similar number of glomeruli in the antennal lobe. Glomeruli in small brains are, however, smaller in both absolute and relative volume. These similarities between small and large wasps may indicate that plasticity in brain size does not require plasticity in the gross morphology of the olfactory system. It may be vital for wasps of all sizes to have a large number of olfactory receptor types, to maintain olfactory precision in their search for suitable hosts, and consequently maintain their reproductive success and Darwinian fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1876-1891
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • AB_143165
  • AB_528108
  • Antenna
  • Antennal lobe
  • Brain size
  • Glomeruli
  • Miniaturization
  • Plasticity
  • SciRes_000137
  • Sensilla
  • 017-3929


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