Taste allows insects to detect palatable or toxic foods, identify a mate, and select appropriate oviposition sites. The gustatory system strongly contributes to the survival and reproductive success of many species, yet it is rarely studied in insect parasitoids. In order to locate and assess a host in which they will lay their eggs, female wasps actively search for chemical cues using their sensory organs present mainly on the antennae. In this paper, we studied the role of antennal taste sensilla chaetica in the perception of contact semiochemicals in Trissolcus brochymenae (Hymenoptera: Platygastridae), an egg parasitoid of the brassicaceae pest Murgantia histrionica (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae). Methanolic extracts obtained from male and female hosts elicited action potentials in taste neurons housed in antennal sensilla chaetica, indicating that these sensilla are involved in the perception of non volatile host kairomones. In behavioural assays, wasp females displayed an intense searching behaviour in open arenas treated with host extracts, thus confirming that these kairomones are soluble in polar solvents. We further investigated the extracts by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and found that they contain several compounds which are good candidates for these contact kairomones. This study contributes to better understanding contact chemoreception in egg parasitoids and identifying gustatory receptor neurons involved in the host location process.
- Sensilla chaetica