Molecular cross-talk in a unique parasitoid manipulation strategy

Maayan Kaiser, Ryan Arvidson, Raz Zarivach, Michael E. Adams, Frederic Libersat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Envenomation of cockroach cerebral ganglia by the parasitoid Jewel wasp, Ampulex compressa, induces specific, long-lasting behavioural changes. We hypothesized that this prolonged action results from venom-induced changes in brain neurochemistry. Here, we address this issue by first identifying molecular targets of the venom, i.e., proteins to which venom components bind and interact with to mediate altered behaviour. Our results show that venom components bind to synaptic proteins and likely interfere with both pre- and postsynaptic processes. Since behavioural changes induced by the sting are long-lasting and reversible, we hypothesized further that long-term effects of the venom must be mediated by up or down regulation of cerebral ganglia proteins. We therefore characterize changes in cerebral ganglia protein abundance of stung cockroaches at different time points after the sting by quantitative mass spectrometry. Our findings indicate that numerous proteins are differentially expressed in cerebral ganglia of stung cockroaches, many of which are involved in signal transduction, such as the Rho GTPase pathway, which is implicated in synaptic plasticity. Altogether, our data suggest that the Jewel wasp commandeers cockroach behaviour through molecular cross-talk between venom components and molecular targets in the cockroach central nervous system, leading to broad-based alteration of synaptic efficacy and behavioural changes that promote successful development of wasp progeny.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-78
Number of pages15
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Behaviour
  • Cockroach
  • Parasitoid wasp
  • Proteomics
  • Synapses
  • Venom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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