Are monoaminergic systems involved in the lethargy induced by a parasitoid wasp in the cockroach prey?

A. Weisel-Eichler, F. Libersat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The venom of the parasitoid wasp Ampulex compressa induces long-lasting hypokinesia in the cockroach prey. Previous work indicates that the venom acts in the subesophageal ganglion to indirectly affect modulation of thoracic circuits for locomotion. However, the target of the venom in the subesophageal ganglion, and the mechanism by which the venom achieves its effects are as yet unknown. While the stung cockroaches appear generally lethargic, not all behaviors were affected, indicating that the venom targets specific motor systems and not behavior in general. Stung cockroaches were observed "freezing" in abnormal positions. Reserpine, which depletes monoamines, mimics the behavioral effects of the venom. We treated cockroaches with antagonists to dopamine and octopamine receptors, and found that the dopamine system is required for normal escape response. Dopamine injection induces prolonged grooming in normal cockroaches, but not in stung, suggesting that the venom is affecting dopamine receptors, or targets downstream of these receptors, in the subesophageal ganglion. This dopamine blocking effect fades slowly over the course of several weeks, similar to the time course of recovery from hypokinesia. The similarity in the time courses suggests that the mechanism underlying the hypokinesia may be the block of the dopamine receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-324
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 May 2002


  • Cockroach
  • Dopamine
  • Hypokinesia
  • Venom
  • Wasp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Are monoaminergic systems involved in the lethargy induced by a parasitoid wasp in the cockroach prey?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this