Data from: The preference-performance relationship as a means of classifying parasitoids according to their specialization degree
Monticelli, Lucie S. et al. (2019), Data from: The preference-performance relationship as a means of classifying parasitoids according to their specialization degree, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.n88s5r3
Host range in parasitoids could be described by the preference-performance hypothesis (PPH) where preference is defined as host acceptance and performance is defined as the sum of all species on which parasitoid offspring can complete their life cycle. The PPH predicts that highly suitable hosts will be preferred by ovipositing females. However, generalist parasitoids may not conform to this hypothesis if they attack a large range of hosts of varying suitability. Under laboratory conditions, we tested the PPH relationship of three aphid parasitoids currently considered as generalist species (Aphelinus abdominalis, Aphidius ervi, Diaeretiella rapae). As expected, the three parasitoids species showed low selectivity i.e. females stung all aphid species encountered (at least in some extent). However, depending on the parasitoid species, only 42-58% of aphid species enabled producing parasitoid offspring. We did not find a correlation between the extent of preference and the performance of three generalist aphid parasitoids. For A. ervi, host phylogeny is also important as females showed higher attack and developmental rates on hosts closely related to the most suitable one. In addition, traits such as (i) the presence of protective secondary endosymbionts, e.g., Hamiltonella defensa detected in Aphis fabae and Metopolophium dirhodum, and (ii) the sequestration of plant toxins as defense mechanism against parasitism e.g., in Aphis nerii and Brevicoryne brassicae, were likely at play to some extent in narrowing parasitoid host range. The lack of PPH relationship involved a low selectivity leading to a high adaptability, as well as selection pressure; the combination of which enabled the production of offspring in a new host species or a new environment. Testing for PPH relationships in parasitoids may provide useful cues to classify parasitoids in terms of specialization degree.