Graduated PhD 2019
Characterisation and isolation of gut bacterial communities from Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) across different environments to improve the sterile insect technique
The Queensland fruit fly (Qfly), Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) (Diptera: Tephritidae) is Australia's most significant biosecurity pest of horticulture, costing the industry AU$100 million annually in loss and management. With a decreasing reliance on insecticides due to severe restrictions on key chemicals with environmental and human health concerns, alternative environmentally soft, targeted and sustainable control measures are being sought.
The sterile insect technique (SIT) is an internationally accepted, effective alternative that comprises the inundative mass-release of sterile male flies into wild populations in the field. The success of SIT relies upon sterile males mating with wild females, which fail to produce offspring, resulting in a reduction of the pest population. SIT is currently not fully utilized in Australia. Improved sterile male B. tryoni performance will allow increases in the efficiency and effectiveness of SIT while minimising costs for sterile fly production, a factor crucial for the programme's future. Recent studies have revealed the seminal contribution of symbiotic microorganisms to the performance and reproductive success of their fruit fly hosts.
In this project, the microbial community of freshly collected wild B. tryoni populations from natural habitats in various locations across eastern Australia and their mass-reared counterparts will be identified and isolated with the utilization of both culturable and non-culturable techniques. From this, bacterial candidates will be identified, screened and probiotic consortia formulated to improve the quality and performance of sterile male B. tryoni. In essence, my project aims to develop bacterial probiotics to "bring the sexy back" to the Qfly SIT.
Research Project Supervisors
A/Professor Markus Riegler (HIE), Dr Jennifer Morrow (HIE) and Dr Olivia Reynolds (NSWDPI)
Woruba DN, Priest MJ, Dewhurst CF, Gitau CW, Fletcher MJ, Nicol HI, Gurr GM, (2014) 'Entomopathogenic fungi of the oil palm pest, Zophiuma butawengi (Fulgoromorpha: Lophopidae), and potential for use as biological control agents', Austral Entomology, vol.53, no.3, pp 268-274