Insect host/parasitoid interactions are co-evolved systems in which host defenses are balanced by parasitoid mechanisms to disable or hide from host immune effectors. Here, we report that Pteromalus puparum
venom impairs the antimicrobial activity of its host Pieris rapae
. Inhibition zone results showed that bead injection induced the antimicrobial activity of the host hemolymph but that venom inhibited it. The cDNAs encoding cecropin and lysozyme were screened. Relative quantitative PCR results indicated that all of the microorganisms and bead injections up-regulated the transcript levels of the two genes but that venom down-regulated them. At 8 h post bead challenge, there was a peak in the transcript level of the cecropin gene, whereas the peak of lysozyme gene occurred at 24 h. The transcripts levels of the two genes were higher in the granulocytes and fat body than in other tissues. RNA interference decreased the transcript levels of the two genes and the antimicrobial activity of the pupal hemolymph. Venom injections similarly silenced the expression of the two genes during the first 8 h post-treatment in time- and dose-dependent manners, after which the silence effects abated. Additionally, recombinant cecropin and lysozyme had no significant effect on the emergence rate of pupae that were parasitized by P. puparum
females. These findings suggest one mechanism of impairing host antimicrobial activity by parasitoid venom.
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