Seed predation is an interesting phytophagy phenomena. Interaction between seed predator and plant, which can be considered as a parasitic one, has arisen independently in several groups of holometabolous insects, with larval forms developing sedentary habits, feeding on seed tissues. Different from other plant structures, seed seems to impose constraints at the insect larval and adult levels, with oviposition and larval feeding intimately linked to developing seed processes. This may have induced the arousal of optimized strategies in resources exploitation at both levels. In Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera), seed predation has arisen in few families. In one of them (Agaonidae) female pollinates oviposited flowers, which means that seed predation by wasp larvae is associated to pollinating traits at female level, which result in a mutualistic species-specific interaction between the wasps and Ficus ssp. (Moraceae) plants. Under the hypothesis that adult female and larva developed optimized strategies linked to seed embryological processes, the current project pretends to study from a comparative point of view the seed parasitism phenomenon in five species inside Chacidoidea. The following systems are to be study: Pegoscapus sp. (Agaonidae) - Ficus citrifolia (Moraceae), Idarnes flavicollis (Sycophagine) - Ficus citrifolia (Moraceae), Exurus sp. (Eulophidae) - Philodendron solimoesense (Araceae), Bephratelloides sp. (Eurytomidae) - Annona squamosa (Annonaceae), and Megastigmus transvaalensis (Torymidae) - Schinus terebinthifolius (Anacardiaceae). For each one of these systems, controlled pollination and oviposition procedures will be done to evaluate flower fertilization importance for the seed predator. There will be done morphological and histological studies for larval and seed development. This will help understand the type of strategies assumed by seed predators mainly at the larval level and establish its link to plant embryology.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: