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Microbial Ecology

The Microbiome of Field-Caught and Laboratory-Adapted Australian Tephritid Fruit Fly Species with Different Host Plant Use and Specialisation

J. L. Morrow, M. Frommer, D. C. A. Shearman, M. Riegler

Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW, 2751, Australia.


Tephritid fruit fly species display a diversity of host plant specialisation on a scale from monophagy to polyphagy. Furthermore, while some species prefer ripening fruit, a few are restricted to damaged or rotting fruit. Such a diversity of host plant use may be reflected in the microbial symbiont diversity of tephritids and their grade of dependency on their microbiomes. Here, we investigated the microbiome of six tephritid species from three genera, including species that are polyphagous pests (Bactrocera tryoni, Bactrocera neohumeralis, Bactrocera jarvisi, Ceratitis capitata) and a monophagous specialist (Bactrocera cacuminata). These were compared with the microbiome of a non-pestiferous but polyphagous tephritid species that is restricted to damaged or rotting fruit (Dirioxa pornia). The bacterial community associated with whole fruit flies was analysed by 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) amplicon pyrosequencing to detect potential drivers of taxonomic composition. Overall, the dominant bacterial families were Enterobacteriaceae and Acetobacteraceae (both Proteobacteria), and Streptococcaceae and Enterococcaceae (both Firmicutes). Comparisons across species and genera found different microbial composition in the three tephritid genera, but limited consistent differentiation between Bactrocera species. Within Bactrocera species, differentiation of microbial composition seemed to be influenced by the environment, possibly including their diets; beyond this, tephritid species identity or ecology also had an effect. The microbiome of D. pornia was most distinct from the other five species, which may be due to its ecologically different niche of rotting or damaged fruit, as opposed to ripening fruit favoured by the other species. Our study is the first amplicon pyrosequencing study to compare the microbiomes of tephritid species and thus delivers important information about the turnover of microbial diversity within and between fruit fly species and their potential application in pest management strategies.

Keywords: Tephritid, Bactrocera, Microbiome, Amplicon pyrosequencing, QIIME, UniFrac.

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