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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research

Title: “This is not an apple”–yeast mutualism in codling moth

item Witzgall, Peter
item Proffit, Magali
item Rozpedowska, Elzbieta
item Becher, Paul
item Andreadis, Stefanos
item Coracini, Miryan
item Lindblom, Tobias
item Bengtsson, Marie
item Ream, Lee
item Kurtzman, Cletus
item Piskur, Jure
item Knight, Alan

Submitted to: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/27/2012
Publication Date: 8/1/2012
Citation: Witzgall, P., Proffit, M., Rozpedowska, E., Becher, P., Andreadis, S., Coracini, M., Lindblom, T., Bengtsson, M., Ream, L.J., Kurtzman, C.P., Piskur, J., Knight, A.L. 2012. “This is not an apple”–yeast mutualism in codling moth. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 38(8):949-957.

Interpretive Summary: The codling moth (Cydia pomonella) is a major pest in apple growing areas of the world because moth larvae burrow into apple fruit ruining appearance and allowing the introduction of spoilage molds. The present study, which resulted from cooperative research between U. S. and Swedish scientists, shows for the first time that yeasts are an essential part of the diet for codling moth larvae. Chemical, physiological, and behavioral analysis demonstrated that codling moths sense and respond to yeast aroma. Female moths are attracted to fermenting yeasts and lay more eggs on yeast-inoculated than on yeast-free apples. In the absence of yeasts, the larvae die. The predominant yeasts in moth larvae burrows are the closely related species Metschnikowia andauensis and M. pulcherrima. Interestingly, M. pulcherrima and certain closely related species have been effective in preventing mold rots of fruits. In view of the present study, use of yeasts or other microorganisms for biocontrol will also require an assessment of their attractiveness to insect pests.

Technical Abstract: 1. The larva of codling moth Cydia pomonella (Tortricidae, Lepidoptera) is known as the worm in the apple, mining the fruit for food. We show that codling moth larvae are closely associated with yeasts of the genus Metschnikowia. Yeast is an essential part of the larval diet and further promotes larval survival by reducing the incidence of fungal infestations in the apple. Larval feeding, on the other hand, enables yeast proliferation on unripe fruit. 2. Chemical, physiological, and behavioral analysis demonstrates that codling moths sense and respond to yeast aroma. Female moths are attracted to fermenting yeast and lay more eggs on yeast­inoculated than on yeast­free apples. An olfactory response to yeast volatiles strongly suggests a contributing role of yeast in host finding, in addition to plant volatiles. 3. Codling moth is a widely studied insect of worldwide economic importance and it is noteworthy that its association with yeasts has gone unnoticed. Tripartite relationships between moths, plants, and microorganisms may, accordingly, be more widespread than previously assumed. It therefore is an urgent task to study the impact of microorganisms on host plant ecology and their contribution to the signals that mediate host plant finding and recognition. A better comprehension of host volatile signatures will facilitate further development and areawide application of semiochemicals for sustainable insect control.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
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