This study aims at exploring the potential relationship between aphidiine parasitoid development and the primary endosymbiont in aphids by focusing on specific aphid instars and the relative effects on parasitoid oviposition behavior and progeny development. Lysiphlebus ambiguus (Aphidiidae, Hymenoptera) is a solitary parasitoid of several species of aphids, including Aphis fabae. In this study, A. fabae was treated with antibiotic rifampicin to obtain aposymbiotic hosts and exposed to parasitism. L. ambiguus launched significantly more attacks on symbiotic L2 (the second instar), aposymbiotic L3 (the third instar) and L4 (the forth instar) hosts than on the corresponding hosts at the same age. L. ambiguus also parasitized more L1 aphids compared with adults irrespective of whether the aphid was asymbiotic or not. Pupa mortality rate of parasitoid progeny was significantly lower from aposymbiotic hosts than from the corresponding symbiotics at all stages. Female-biased parasitoid progeny was produced from aposymbiotic aphids without respect to host ages, but female progeny increased linearly with host ages at parasitism from symbiotic aphids. Body size of parasitoid progeny increased linearly with host instars at parasitism in symbiotic aphids but did not significantly change across host instars in aposymbiotic aphids. The offspring parasitoids turned out to be generally large in body size from attacking aposymbiotic aphids compared with the symbiotics. Development time of egg-to-adult of parasitoid progeny decreased with host instars in both symbiotic and aposymbiotic aphids but was generally much longer in aposymbiotic aphids than in symbiotic aphids. Our study suggests that age or body size of host aphids may not be the only cue exercised by L. ambiguus to evaluate host quality and that offspring parasitoids may be able to compensate for the nutrition stress associated with disruption of primary endosymbiotc bacteria in aposymbiotic aphids.
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