Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Breaking bad': Insect pests in the making

Date:
March 18, 2014
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
Of thousands of known species of Drosophila fruit flies, just one is a known crop pest, depositing eggs inside ripening fruit so its maggots can feed and grow. New research shows the similarities and crucial differences between this pest and its close relatives -- and that one related fly has potential to also become a pest.

Top photo: Female Drosophila D suzukii. Most Drosophila fruit flies lay eggs in damaged fruit (bottom left). Only one species, Drosophila suzukii, can make holes to lay eggs in fresh fruit (lower center). But D. suzukii failed to lay eggs in intact grapes, although it did damage the skin (lower right).
Credit: Joel Atallah/UC Davis photos

Of thousands of known species of Drosophila fruit flies, just one is known as a crop pest, depositing eggs inside ripening fruit so its maggots can feed and grow. New research from the University of California, Davis, shows the similarities and crucial differences between this pest and its close relatives -- and that one related fly has potential to also become a pest.

Related Articles


Drosophila flies, found worldwide, lay their eggs in rotting fruit. Drosophila suzukii, also referred to as "spotted-wing Drosophila" because the male has large black blotches on his wings (as do males of several other closely related species), is able to penetrate the skins of ripening fruit and lay eggs inside.

"It was a surprise for western researchers when D. suzukii was identified as a pest," said Joel Atallah, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis who carried out the work with Artyom Kopp, professor of evolution and ecology, and undergraduate researchers Lisa Teixeira, Raul Salazar, George Zaragoza and Mubasher Ahmed. "Previously, it was thought that Drosophila would just lay eggs on rotting fruit."

D. suzukii apparently originated in Asia and was reported in Hawaii in the 1980s. However, it wasn't identified as a pest in North America until 2008, when a UC Cooperative Extension specialist sent samples of infested strawberries to Kopp's laboratory at UC Davis, asking for help in identification.

The same year, D. suzukii was found in Southern California orchards, and since then it has spread rapidly across the country.

Atallah and the undergraduate researchers analyzed the ovipositor, or egg-laying organ of D. suzukii and three other closely related species, D. subpulchrella, D. biarmipes and D. mimetica. They also offered lab-raised flies different fruits and observed whether they were able to lay eggs in them.

D. suzukii has a large, pointed ovipositor with prominent bristles. D. subpulchrella also has a large, bristly ovipositor, of slightly different shape, while the other flies have much smaller ovipositors similar to those of other Drosophila. They do have the same pattern of bristles, but they are much smaller and less visible.

In the lab, both D. suzukii and D. subpulchrella flies could penetrate the skins of cherries and raspberries and deposit eggs in them. D. suzukii flies, but not D. subpulchrella, made holes in grape skins, although they laid relatively few eggs there.

Kopp noted that even when the Drosophila flies could penetrate fruit, they were not very good at it, taking several minutes and multiple attempts.

Laying eggs inside ripening fruit is probably a recent development for Drosophila. Kopp speculated that as flies compete for good food sources in which to lay their eggs, there would be an advantage in being able to colonize fresher and firmer fruit. Eventually, this could have pushed D. suzukii to the point where it can penetrate fruit before it falls and starts to rot.

Controlling the flies will be challenging, Kopp said. Unlike the notorious Mediterranean fruit fly or Medfly, Drosophila flies are generalists with a wide range of food sources and breeding sites, and a generation time of less than two weeks.

"We want to identify which flies are dangerous and which are not," said Atallah. "D. subpulchrella has not yet been identified as a pest in the western world, but it may have the potential to become one."

The work was published Feb. 26 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Atallah, L. Teixeira, R. Salazar, G. Zaragoza, A. Kopp. The making of a pest: the evolution of a fruit-penetrating ovipositor in Drosophila suzukii and related species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2014; 281 (1781): 20132840 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2840

Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis. "'Breaking bad': Insect pests in the making." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318140807.htm>.
University of California - Davis. (2014, March 18). 'Breaking bad': Insect pests in the making. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318140807.htm
University of California - Davis. "'Breaking bad': Insect pests in the making." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318140807.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Brawling Pandas Are Violently Adorable

Brawling Pandas Are Violently Adorable

Buzz60 (Jan. 29, 2015) Video of pandas play fighting at the Chengdu Research Base in China will make your day. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Biofuels aren&apos;t the best alternative to fossil fuels, according to a new report. In fact, they&apos;re quite a bad one. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3-D Printed Wheelchair Helps Two-Legged Dog Learn to Run

3-D Printed Wheelchair Helps Two-Legged Dog Learn to Run

Buzz60 (Jan. 29, 2015) 3-D printing helps another two-legged dog run around with his four-legged friends. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the adorable video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

RightThisMinute (Jan. 28, 2015) From new-puppy happy tears to helpful-grocery-carrying-dog laughter, our four-legged best friends can make us feel the entire spectrum of emotions. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins