Functional insights from the GC-poor genomes of two aphid parasitoids, <em>Aphidius ervi</em> and <em>Lysiphlebus fabarum</em>


  • Dennis Alice B.
  • Ballesteros Gabriel I.
  • Robin Stéphanie
  • Schrader Lukas
  • Bast Jens
  • Berghöfer Jan
  • Beukeboom Leo
  • Belghazi Maya
  • Bretaudeau Anthony
  • Büllesbach Jan
  • Cash Elizabeth
  • Colinet Dominique
  • Dumas Zoé
  • Falabella Patrizia
  • Gatti Jean-Luc
  • Geuverink Elzemiek
  • Gibson Joshua D.
  • Hertäg Corinne
  • Hartmann Stefanie
  • Joly Emmanuelle
  • Lammers Mark
  • Lavandero Blas I.
  • Lindenbaum Ina
  • Galata-Massardier Lauriane
  • Meslin Camille
  • Montagné Nicolas
  • Pak Nina
  • Poirie Marylène
  • Salvia Rosanna
  • Smith Chris R.
  • Tagu Denis
  • Tares Sophie
  • Vogel Heiko
  • Schwander Tanja
  • Simon Jean-Christophe
  • Figueroa Christian
  • Vorburger Christoph
  • Legeai Fabrice
  • Gadau Jürgen


Background Parasitoid wasps have fascinating life cycles and play an important role in trophic networks, yet little is known about their genome content and function. Parasitoids that infect aphids are an important group with the potential for biocontrol, and infecting aphids requires overcoming both aphid defenses and their defensive endosymbionts. Results We present the de novo genome assemblies, detailed annotation, and comparative analysis of two closely related parasitoid wasps that target pest aphids: Aphidius ervi and Lysiphlebus fabarum (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Aphidiinae). The genomes are small (139 and 141 Mbp), highly syntenic, and the most AT-rich reported thus far for any arthropod (GC content: 25.8% and 23.8%). This nucleotide bias is accompanied by skewed codon usage, and is stronger in genes with adult-biased expression. AT-richness may be the consequence of reduced genome size, a near absence of DNA methylation, and age-specific energy demands. We identify expansions of F-box/Leucine-rich-repeat proteins, suggesting that diversification in this gene family may be associated with their broad host range or with countering defenses from aphids’ endosymbionts. The absence of some immune genes (Toll and Imd pathways) resembles similar losses in their aphid hosts, highlighting the potential impact of symbiosis on both aphids and their parasitoids. Conclusions These findings are of fundamental interest for insect evolution and beyond. This will provide a strong foundation for further functional studies including coevolution with respect to their hosts, the basis of successful infection, and biocontrol. Both genomes are available at

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