Minute egg parasitoids of the genus Trichogramma (Hymenoptera; Trichogrammatidae) are promising candidates for biological control of lepidopteran pests in tomato in Portugal. This certainly applies to native Trichogramma strains that have thelytokous reproduction, i.e., produce only daughters. In Trichogramma wasps, thelytoky is mostly induced by the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia. In this study, we carried out a field survey of native Trichogramma species in four locations in Ribatejo, the main processing tomato region of Portugal, and determined the prevalence of Wolbachia in those species. Five Trichogramma species were found to emerge from lepidopteran eggs collected in the field, namely Trichogramma bourarache, Trichogramma cordubensis, Trichogramma evanescens, Trichogramma pintoi, and Trichogramma turkestanica. T. evanescens and T. pintoi were by far the dominating species representing, respectively, 64.9 and 26.4% of the trichogrammatids collected. Total natural parasitism rates of the collected lepidopteran eggs by Trichogramma wasps ranged from 28.2 to 64.6%. Three Trichogramma species were found to be infected with Wolbachia, namely T. cordubensis, T. evanescens, and T. turkestanica. All the wasp broods belonging to T. cordubensis were infected, whereas low infection rates were found in T. evanescens (0.9% of the broods) and T. turkestanica (4.5% of the broods). The latter represents the first record of a Wolbachia infection in T. turkestanica. Sequencing of the Wolbachia surface protein, wsp, revealed this Wolbachia infection to be related to other Wolbachia infections in Trichogramma wasps. As Wolbachia-infected thelytokous strains exist for T. evanescens, the most abundant Trichogramma species naturally occurring in the tomato fields of the Ribatejo region, this species offers interesting and powerful options for biological control of lepidopteran pests in processing tomato in this region.
- sex-ratio chromosome