BackgroundThe Queensland fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) (Diptera, Tephritidae) is the most significant insect pest of Australian horticulture. Bactrocera tryoni is controlled using a range of tools including the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). Mass-rearing and irradiation of pupae in SIT can reduce the fitness and quality of the released sterile insects. Studies have also showed reduced microbial gut diversity in domesticated versus wild tephritids.
ResultsTransmission electron microscopy confirmed the presence of the bacterial isolates in the mid-gut of mass-reared larvae, and plate counts from individual larval guts showed increased numbers of bacteria in supplemented larvae. Several developmental and fitness parameters were tested including larval development time (egg-hatch to pupation), pupal weight, emergence, flight ability, sex-ratio, and time to adult eclosion (egg-hatch to adult eclosion). Enterobacter sp. and Asaia sp. shortened larval development time, while this was delayed by Lactobacillus sp., Leuconostoc sp. and a blend of all four bacteria. The mean time from egg hatch to adult eclosion was significantly reduced by Leuconostoc sp. and the blend for males and females, indicating that the individual bacterium and consortium affect flies differently depending on the life stage (larval or pupal). There was no impact of bacterial supplemented larvae on pupal weight, emergence, flight ability, or sex ratio.
ConclusionsOur findings show that bacteria fed to the larval stage of B. tryoni can impart fitness advantages, but the selection of probiotic strains (individual or a consortium) is key, as each have varying effects on the host. Bacteria added to the larval diet particularly Leuconostoc sp. and the blend have the capacity to reduce costs and increase the number of flies produced in mass-rearing facilities by reducing time to adult eclosion by 1.3 and 0.8 mean days for males, and 1.2 and 0.8 mean days for females.