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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Cuticular hydrocarbons on old museum specimens of the spiny mason wasp, Odynerus spinipes (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Eumeninae), shed light on the distribution and on regional frequencies of distinct chemotypes

Moris, Victoria C.; Christmann, Katharina; Wirtgen, Aline; Belokobylskij, Sergey A.; Berg, Alexander; Liebig, Wolf-Harald; Soon, Villu; Baur, Hannes; Schmitt, Thomas; Niehuis, Oliver


The mason wasp Odynerus spinipes shows an exceptional case of intrasexual cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) profile dimorphism. Females of this species display one of two CHC profiles (chemotypes) that differ qualitatively and quantitatively from each other. The ratio of the two chemotypes was previously shown to be close to 1:1 at three sites in Southern Germany, which might not be representative given the Palearctic distribution of the species. To infer the frequency of the two chemotypes across the entire distributional range of the species, we analyzed with GC-MS the CHC profile of 1042 dry-mounted specimens stored in private and museum collections. We complemented our sampling by including 324 samples collected and preserved specifically for studying their CHCs. We were capable of reliably identifying the chemotypes in 91% of dry-mounted samples, some of which collected almost 200 years ago. We found both chemotypes to occur in the Far East, the presumed glacial refuge of the species, and their frequency to differ considerably between sites and geographic regions. The geographic structure in the chemotype frequencies could be the result of differential selection regimes and/or different dispersal routes during the colonization of the Western Palearctic. The presented data pave the route for disentangling these factors by providing information where to geographically sample O. spinipes for population genetic analyses. They also form the much-needed basis for future studies aiming to understand the evolutionary and geographic origin as well as the genetics of the astounding CHC profile dimorphism that O. spinipes females exhibit.


Cuticular hydrocarbons; Chemotypes; Dry-mounted samples; Collections; Distribution

Published in

2021, Volume: 31, number: 5, pages: 311-322

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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