Trichogramma wasps (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) are egg parasitoids commonly employed in augmentative biological control releases against a variety of mainly lepidopteran pests. By exploiting the mechanism by which the endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia induces parthenogenesis in this genus, we created a set of completely homozygous Wolbachia-infected recombinant isofemale lines (RILs), each consisting of a different combination of the genome of two well-characterized lines of Trichogramma pretiosum Riley. We subsequently use 16 of these RILs to investigate the effect of genetic variation on various measures associated with offspring production under laboratory conditions. Unsurprisingly, substantial differences were found between the RILs in their propensity to parasitize hosts, the number of hosts they parasitize, and the levels of mortality in their offspring. Such measures can be used to choose an optimal line for biological control purposes. A method was also developed to characterize the 16 RILs using their allelic state at five loci. Essentially, this binary system uses high-resolution melt analysis to resolve identity at each locus, with alleles originating from either the grandmaternal or grandpaternal line, and is such that each RIL can be distinguished from each other RIL by their allelic state at one or more loci. The method facilitates the easy diagnosis of line origin when two or more lines are competing with each other in competition assays, allowing for the design of more complicated tests of parasitoid quality. Future field experiments will determine which genetic line performs best under more realistic biological control conditions. The fact that these lines are infected with parthenogenesis-inducing Wolbachia will allow for prolonged rearing without appreciable change in their genetic makeup, which should lead to a predictable biological control performance.
- biological control
- genetic variation
- high-resolution melt curves
- inundative biological control
- mass rearing