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Insects 2018, 9(2), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9020067

Influence of Elytral Color Pattern, Size, and Sex of Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) on Parasite Prevalence and Intensity of Hesperomyces virescens (Ascomycota, Laboulbeniales)

1
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
2
Farlow Reference Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
3
Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics, University of Ulm, 89081 Ulm, Germany
4
Department of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw, 02-089 Warsaw, Poland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 May 2018 / Revised: 12 June 2018 / Accepted: 12 June 2018 / Published: 15 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms Underlying Transmission of Insect Pathogens)
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Abstract

Harmonia axyridis is an invasive ladybird (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) with the potential to outcompete native ladybird species in its invasive distribution area. It was introduced as a biological control agent in many countries but has also spread unintentionally in many others. Hesperomyces virescens (Ascomycota, Laboulbeniales) is a minute (200–400 µm in size) biotrophic fungus that infects over 30 species of ladybirds. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the elytral color pattern, size, and sex of Ha. axyridis affect infection by H. virescens. Coloration in Ha. axyridis has been linked to the presence of an antimicrobial alkaloid (harmonine). In fall 2016, we collected 763 Ha. axyridis individuals in Cambridge, Massaschusetts, of which 119 (16%) bore H. virescens fruiting bodies. We analyzed 160 individuals (80 infected, 80 uninfected) concerning the intensity of infection by H. virescens. Elytral sizes and coloration patterns were quantified using digital photography and analytical methods. Smaller ladybirds had a higher prevalence and higher intensity of parasitism. Additionally, male ladybirds bore more thalli compared to female ladybirds. Elytral color patterns had an effect on neither prevalence nor intensity of infection by Laboulbeniales in our dataset, although we found a slight trend to higher intensity of parasitism in more melanic males. This suggests that the development of Laboulbeniales might be affected by certain insect alkaloids. View Full-Text
Keywords: biotrophic interactions; invasive species; color polymorphism; harlequin ladybird; harmonine biotrophic interactions; invasive species; color polymorphism; harlequin ladybird; harmonine
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Haelewaters, D.; Hiller, T.; Gorczak, M.; Pfister, D.H. Influence of Elytral Color Pattern, Size, and Sex of Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) on Parasite Prevalence and Intensity of Hesperomyces virescens (Ascomycota, Laboulbeniales). Insects 2018, 9, 67.

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