New species based on the biological species concept within the complex of Lariophagus distinguendus (Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea, Pteromalidae), a parasitoid of household pests

Marie Pollmann, Denise Kuhn, Christian König, Irmela Homolka, Sina Paschke, Ronja Reinisch, Anna Schmidt, Noa Schwabe, Justus Weber, Yuval Gottlieb, Johannes Luitpold Maria Steidle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pteromalid parasitoid Lariophagus distinguendus (Foerster) belongs to the Hymenoptera, a megadiverse insect order with high cryptic diversity. It attacks stored product pest beetles in human storage facilities. Recently, it has been shown to consist of two separate species. To further study its cryptic diversity, strains were collected to compare their relatedness using barcoding and nuclear genes. Nuclear genes identified two clusters which agree with the known two species, whereas the barcode fragment determined an additional third Clade. Total reproductive isolation (RI) according to the biological species concept (BSC) was investigated in crossing experiments within and between clusters using representative strains. Sexual isolation exists between all studied pairs, increasing from slight to strong with genetic distance. Postzygotic barriers mostly affected hybrid males, pointing to Haldane's rule. Hybrid females were only affected by unidirectional Spiroplasma-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility and behavioural sterility, each in one specific strain combination. RI was virtually absent between strains separated by up to 2.8% COI difference, but strong or complete in three pairs from one Clade each, separated by at least 7.2%. Apparently, each of these clusters represents one separate species according to the BSC, highlighting cryptic diversity in direct vicinity to humans. In addition, these results challenge the recent ‘turbo-taxonomy’ practice of using 2% COI differences to delimitate species, especially within parasitic Hymenoptera. The gradual increase in number and strength of reproductive barriers between strains with increasing genetic distance also sheds light on the emergence of barriers during the speciation process in L. distinguendus.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere10524
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Manuela Sann and Stefan Vidal for their immensely valuable comments to improve the manuscript and Cornelia Gantert for assistance with baiting and breeding L. distinguendus. Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • cryptic diversity
  • parasitoid wasps
  • reproductive isolation
  • species delimitation
  • turbo-taxonomy


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