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Breaking up the Wall: Metal-Enrichment in Ovipositors, but Not in Mandibles, Co-Varies with Substrate Hardness in Gall-Wasps and Their Associates

AuthorsPolidori, Carlo ; Jorge García, Alberto ; Nieves-Aldrey, J. L.
Issue Date2013
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE, 8(7): e70529 (2013)
AbstractThe cuticle of certain insect body parts can be hardened by the addition of metals, and because niche separation may require morphological adaptations, inclusion of such metals may be linked to life history traits. Here, we analysed the distribution and enrichment of metals in the mandibles and ovipositors of a large family of gall-inducing wasps (Cynipidae, or Gall-Wasps) (plus one gall-inducing Chalcidoidea), and their associated wasps (gall-parasitoids and gall-inquilines) (Cynipidae, Chalcidoidea and Ichneumonoidea). Both plant types/organs where galls are induced, as well as galls themselves, vary considerably in hardness, thus making this group of wasps an ideal model to test if substrate hardness can predict metal enrichment. Non-galler, parasitic Cynipoidea attacking unconcealed hosts were used as ecological ¿outgroup¿. With varying occurrence and concentration, Zn, Mn and Cu were detected in mandibles and ovipositors of the studied species. Zn tends be exclusively concentrated at the distal parts of the organs, while Mn and Cu showed a linear increase from the proximal to the distal parts of the organs. In general, we found that most of species having metal-enriched ovipositors (independently of metal type and concentration) were gall-invaders. Among gall-inducers, metals in the ovipositors were more likely to be found in species inducing galls in woody plants. Overall, a clear positive effect of substrate hardness on metal concentration was detected for all the three metals. Phylogenetic relationships among species, as suggested by the most recent estimates, seemed to have a weak role in explaining metal variation. On the other hand, no relationships were found between substrate hardness or gall-association type and concentration of metals in mandibles. We suggest that ecological pressures related to oviposition were sufficiently strong to drive changes in ovipositor elemental structure in these gall-associated Hymenoptera.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070529
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070529
issn: 1932-6203
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