Phenotypic plasticity of fatty acid synthesis and fat accumulation

Our research focuses primarily on the study of lipid metabolism in parasitoids. These insects were initially thought to have lost (and regained) the ability for fat accumulation during the course of evolution. Our latest findings revealed that fatty acid synthesis and fat accumulation was not lost or regained in the amber wasp Leptopilina heterotoma, a Drosophila parasitoid, but that this species evolved extreme plasticity (Visser et al 2021 Sci Rep). When wasps develop in a fat-poor environment, fat synthesis and accumulation will be switched on during adult life, but when development takes place in a fat-rich environment fat synthesis and accumulation will be not occur. It is exceptional that fat synthesis can be completely shut off, because these wasps feed on a superfluous supply of sugars that typically induces fat anabolism. With the team, we study the effect of habitat, temperature, and endosymbionts on plastic fat synthesis, as well as its molecular underpinnings.

Current active collaborations: Prof Caroline Nieberding (UCLouvain, BE); Dr Cécile Le Lann (Rennes Univ, FR); Prof Daniel Hahn (Univ Florida, USA); Prof Giorgia Purcaro (Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech ULiège, Belgium)  

Leptopilina heterotoma. Photo: Hans Smid

Evolution of olfactory communication and dispersal

Our lab has a close collaboration with the team of Prof. Caroline Nieberding. Visit the lab website for more information about shared research interests.

The work in our lab is funded by:

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