Data from: Symbiotic polydnavirus and venom reveal parasitoid to its hyperparasitoids

Zhu, F.; Cusumano, Antonino; Bloem, J.; Weldegergis, B.T.; Nunes Villela, A.; Fatouros, N.E.; Loon, J.J.A. van; Dicke, M.; Harvey, Jeffrey A.; Vogel, Heiko; Poelman, E.H.


Symbiotic relationships may provide organisms with key innovations that aid in the establishment of new niches. For example, during oviposition, some species of parasitoid wasps, whose larvae develop inside the bodies of other insects, inject polydnaviruses into their hosts. These symbiotic viruses disrupt host immune responses, allowing the parasitoid’s progeny to survive. Here, we show that symbiotic polydnaviruses also have a downside to the parasitoid’s progeny by initiating a multi-trophic chain of interactions that reveals the parasitoid larvae to their enemies. These enemies are hyperparasitoids that use the parasitoid progeny as host for their own offspring. We found that the virus and venom injected by the parasitoid during oviposition, but not the parasitoid progeny itself, affected hyperparasitoid attraction towards plant volatiles induced by feeding of parasitized caterpillars We identified activity of virus-related genes in the caterpillar salivary gland. Moreover, the virus affected the activity of elicitors of salivary origin that induce plant responses to caterpillar feeding. The changes in caterpillar saliva were critical in inducing plant volatiles that are used by hyperparsitoids to locate parasitized caterpillars. Our results show that symbiotic organisms may be key drivers of multi-trophic ecological interactions. We anticipate that this phenomenon is widespread in nature, because of the abundance of symbiotic microorganisms across trophic levels in ecological communities. Their role should be more prominently integrated in community ecology to understand organization of natural and managed ecosystems as well as adaptations of individual organisms that are part of these communities.