RP4 Clutch size, sex ratio, and differential mortality in the Bracon hebetor - B. brevicornis species complex

This research investigates clutch size and sex ratio in two parasitoids that are prime candidates to control the European Corn Borer. By quantifying and mapping genetic variation for these traits and their place in the parasitoid life history the rearing of these biocontrol agents will be optimized.

Probably due to global warming, the European corn borer recently became able to produce two generations per year instead of just one, thereby drastically increasing its destructive potential in some areas. Wasps of the genus Bracon are very promising additional biocontrol agents against this important pest. By quantifying and mapping genetic variation for important traits, such as clutch size or sex ratio produced, we will be able to select for the most suitable Bracon populations. The main objectives of this project are thus (i) to analyse the natural variation and heritability in the above mentioned traits, (ii) to map the genomic variation for understanding phenotype/genotype links (SNP), to analyse differential developmental mortality using transmission ratio-distorting loci (TRDLs) and (iv) to analyses the trade-offs involved in phenotype expression.