Lipidomics reveals how the endoparasitoid wasp Pteromalus puparum manipulates host energy stores for its young

Jiale Wang, Hongxia Jin, Todd Schlenke, Yi Yang, Fang Wang, Hongwei Yao, Qi Fang, Gongyin Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Endoparasitoid wasps inject venom along with their eggs to adjust the physiological and nutritional environment inside their hosts to benefit the development of their offspring. In particular, wasp venoms are known to modify host lipid metabolism, lipid storage in the fat body, and release of lipids into the hemolymph, but how venoms accomplish these functions remains unclear. Here, we use an UPLC-MS-based lipidomics approach to analyze the identities and concentrations of lipids in both fat body and hemolymph of host cabbage butterfly (Pieris rapae) infected by the pupal endoparasitoid Pteromalus puparum. During infection, host fat body levels of highly unsaturated, soluble triacylglycerides (TAGs) increased while less unsaturated, less soluble forms decreased. Furthermore, in infected host hemolymph, overall levels of TAG and phospholipids (the major component of cell membranes) increased, suggesting that fat body cells are destroyed and their contents are dispersed. Altogether, these data suggest that wasp venom induces host fat body TAGs to be transformed into lower melting point (more liquid) forms and released into the host hemolymph following infection, allowing simple absorption and nutritional acquisition by wasp larvae. Finally, cholesteryl esters (CEs, a dietary lipid derived from cholesterol) increased in host hemolymph following infection with no concomitant decrease in host cholesterol, implying that the wasp may provide this necessary food resource to its offspring via its venom. This study provides novel insight into how parasitoid infection alters lipid metabolism in insect hosts, and begins to uncover the wasp venom proteins responsible for host physiological changes and offspring development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number158736
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Fat body
  • Hemolymph
  • Lipid
  • Lipidomics
  • Pieris rapae
  • Pteromalus puparum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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