Under drought stress, Phytoseiulus persimilis females are able to lay drought-resistant eggs through an adaptive maternal effect. The mechanisms making these eggs drought resistant still remain to be investigated. For this purpose, we studied the physiological differences between drought-resistant and drought-sensitive eggs. We compared the volume and the surface-area-to-volume ratio (SA:V) of the eggs, their sex ratio, their chemical composition (by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry), their internal and external structure [by scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM) images], and their developmental time. Our results show that drought-resistant and drought-sensitive eggs have a different chemical composition: drought-resistant eggs contain more compatible solutes (free amino acids and sugar alcohols) and saturated hydrocarbons than drought-sensitive eggs. This difference may contribute to reducing water loss in drought-resistant eggs. Moreover, drought-resistant eggs are on average 8.4% larger in volume, and have a 2.4% smaller SA:V than drought-sensitive eggs. This larger volume and smaller SA:V, probably the result of a higher water content, may make drought-resistant eggs less vulnerable to water loss. We did not find any difference in sex ratio, internal or external structure nor developmental time between drought-resistant and drought-sensitive eggs. These results mark the first step in the understanding of the strategies and the energetic costs involved in the production of drought-resistant eggs in P. persimilis females.
- Maternal effect
- Metabolomic profiling