Concurrence in the ability for lipid synthesis between life stages in insects

Bertanne Visser (Corresponding author), Denis S. Willett, Jeffrey A. Harvey, Hans T. Alborn

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The ability to synthesize lipids is critical for an organism’s fitness; hence, metabolic pathways, underlying lipid synthesis, tend to be highly conserved. Surprisingly, the majority of parasitoids deviate from this general metabolic model by lacking the ability to convert sugars and other carbohydrates into lipids. These insects spend the first part of their life feeding and developing in or on an arthropod host, during which they can carry over a substantial amount of lipid reserves. While many parasitoid species have been tested for lipogenic ability at the adult life stage, it has remained unclear whether parasitoid larvae can synthesize lipids. Here we investigate whether or not several insects can synthesize lipids during the larval stage using three ectoparasitic wasps (developing on the outside of the host) and the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster that differ in lipogenic ability in the adult life stage. Using feeding experiments and stable isotope tracing with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, we first confirm lipogenic abilities in the adult life stage. Using topical application of stable isotopes in developing larvae, we then provide clear evidence of concurrence in lipogenic ability between larval and adult life stages in all species tested.
Original languageEnglish
Article number160815
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2017


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