BackgroundMass-rearing, domestication and gamma irradiation of tephritid fruit flies used in sterile insect technique (SIT) programmes can negatively impact fly quality and performance. Symbiotic bacteria supplied as probiotics to mass-reared fruit flies may help to overcome some of these issues. However, the effects of tephritid ontogeny, sex, diet and irradiation on their microbiota are not well known.
ResultsWe have used next-generation sequencing to characterise the bacterial community composition and structure within Queensland fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt), by generating 16S rRNA gene amplicon libraries derived from the guts of 58 individual teneral and mature, female and male, sterile and fertile adult flies reared on artificial larval diets in a laboratory or mass-rearing environment, and fed either a full adult diet (i.e. sugar and yeast hydrolysate) or a sugar only adult diet. Overall, the amplicon sequence read volume in tenerals was low and smaller than in mature adult flies. Operational taxonomic units (OTUs), belonging to the families Enterobacteriaceae (8 OTUs) and Acetobacteraceae (1 OTU) were most prevalent. Enterobacteriaceae dominated laboratory-reared tenerals from a colony fed a carrot-based larval diet, while Acetobacteraceae dominated mass-reared tenerals from a production facility colony fed a lucerne chaff based larval diet. As adult flies matured, Enterobacteriaceae became dominant irrespective of larval origin. The inclusion of yeast in the adult diet strengthened this shift away from Acetobacteraceae towards Enterobacteriaceae. Interestingly, irradiation increased 16S rRNA gene sequence read volume.
ConclusionsOur findings suggest that bacterial populations in fruit flies experience significant bottlenecks during metamorphosis. Gut bacteria in teneral flies were less abundant and less diverse, and impacted by colony origin. In contrast, mature adult flies had selectively increased abundances for some gut bacteria, or acquired these bacteria from the adult diet and environment. Furthermore, irradiation augmented bacterial abundance in mature flies. This implies that either some gut bacteria were compensating for damage caused by irradiation or irradiated flies had lost their ability to regulate bacterial load. Our findings suggest that the adult stage prior to sexual maturity may be ideal to target for probiotic manipulation of fly microbiota to increase fly performance in SIT programmes.