Defence strategies against a parasitoid wasp in Drosophila: Fight or flight?

Thierry Lefèvre, Jacobus C. De Roode, Balint Z. Kacsoh, Todd A. Schlenke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Hosts may defend themselves against parasitism through a wide variety of defence mechanisms, but due to finite resources, investment in one defence mechanism may trade-off with investment in another mechanism. We studied resistance strategies against the parasitoid wasp Leptopilina boulardi in two Drosophila species. We found that D. melanogaster had significantly lower physiological resistance against L. boulardi than D. simulans, and hypothesized that D. melanogaster might instead invest more heavily in other forms of defence, such as behavioural defence. We found that when given a choice between clean oviposition sites and sites infested with wasps, both D. melanogaster and D. simulans detected and avoided infested sites, which presumably limits later exposure of their offspring to infection. Unlike D. simulans, however, D. melanogaster laid significantly fewer eggs than controls in the forced presence of wasps. Our findings suggest that D. melanogaster relies more heavily on behavioural avoidance as defence against wasp parasitismthan D. simulans, and that this may compensate for a lack of physiological defence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-233
Number of pages4
JournalBiology letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 23 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Avoidance
  • Drosophila
  • Parasitoid wasps
  • Physiological and behavioural defences
  • Resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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