Systematics, Biology, and Evolution of Microgastrine Parasitoid Wasps

James B. Whitfield, Andrew D. Austin, Jose L. Fernandez-Triana

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The braconid parasitoid wasp subfamily Microgastrinae is perhaps the most species-rich subfamily of animals on Earth. Despite their small size, they are familiar to agriculturalists and field ecologists alike as one of the principal groups of natural enemies of caterpillars feeding on plants. Their abundance and nearly ubiquitous terrestrial distribution, their intricate interactions with host insects, and their historical association with mutualistic polydnaviruses have all contributed to Microgastrinae becoming a key group of organisms for studying parasitism, parasitoid genomics, and mating biology. However, these rich sources of data have not yet led to a robust genus-level classification of the group, and some taxonomic confusion persists as a result. We present the current status of understanding of the general biology, taxonomic history, diversity, geographical patterns, host relationships, and phylogeny of Microgastrinae as a stimulus and foundation for further study. Current progress in elucidating the biology and taxonomy of this important group is rapid and promises a revolution in the classification of these wasps in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-406
Number of pages18
JournalAnnual Review of Entomology
StatePublished - Jan 7 2018


  • classification
  • coevolution
  • endoparasitism
  • host specificity
  • phylogenetics
  • polydnaviruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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