PloS one

Placenta-like structure of the aphid endoparasitic wasp Aphidius ervi: a strategy of optimal resources acquisition.

PMID 21526196


Aphidius ervi (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) is an entomophagous parasitoid known to be an effective parasitoid of several aphid species of economic importance. A reduction of its production cost during mass rearing for inundative release is needed to improve its use in biological control of pests. In these contexts, a careful analysis of its entire development phases within its host is needed. This paper shows that this parasitoid has some characteristics in its embryological development rather complex and different from most other reported insects, which can be phylogenetically very close. First, its yolkless egg allows a high fecundity of the female but force them to hatch from the egg shell rapidly to the host hemocoel. An early cellularisation allowing a rapid differentiation of a serosa membrane seems to confirm this hypothesis. The serosa wraps the developing embryo until the first instar larva stage and invades the host tissues by microvilli projections and form a placenta like structure able to divert host resources and allowing nutrition and respiration of embryo. Such interspecific invasion, at the cellular level, recalls mammal's trophoblasts that anchors maternal uterine wall and underlines the high adaptation of A. ervi to develop in the host body.