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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #391020

Research Project: Development of New and Improved Surveillance, Detection, Control, and Management Technologies for Fruit Flies and Invasive Pests of Tropical and Subtropical Crops

Location: Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research

Title: Molecular and behavioral studies reveal differences in olfaction between winter and summer morphs of Drosophila suzukii

item SCHWANITZ, TIMOTHY - Rutgers University
item Polashock, James
item Stockton, Dara
item RODRIGUEZ-SAONA, CESAR - Rutgers University
item SOTOMAYOR, DIEGO - University Of Puerto Rico
item LOEB, GREGORY - Cornell University
item HAWKINGS, CHLOE - Rutgers University

Submitted to: PeerJ
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/10/2022
Publication Date: 9/16/2022
Citation: Schwanitz, T.W., Polashock, J.J., Stockton, D.G., Rodriguez-Saona, C., Sotomayor, D., Loeb, G.M., Hawkings, C. 2022. Molecular and behavioral studies reveal differences in olfaction between winter and summer morphs of Drosophila suzukii. PeerJ. 10. Article e13825.

Interpretive Summary: Spotted-wing drosophila (SWD) is a major invasive pest of berry crops in the United States, South America, and Europe. This study aimed to understand the the changes in gene expression in winter morphotype flies that produce the distinct behavioral differences in resource seeking behavior seen during different times of the year. Indeed, in the field, lures that effectively trap SWD are ineffective in northern sites, such as the Great Lakes region or the Northeastern states, after January when temperatures drop considerably and wintermorph phenotypes prevail. The study identified 13 genes that are upregulated in winter morphs relative to summer morphs that appear to affect food seeking and mating behaviors. In wintermorphs, while mobility remains high, food seeking remains low, indicating that there is a shift in olfactory responses independent from the ability to locate food. This is consistent with a shift in metabolism away from active consumption and reproduction and towards overwintering. Future studies should aim to to determine if saprophytic nutritive resources are used by SWD during this period and if alternative lure designs may be more effective for the winter phenotype.

Technical Abstract: Spotted-wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura), is a major economic pest of several fruit crops in Europe, North and South America, and other parts of the world because it oviposits in ripening thin-skinned fruits. This vinegar fly exhibits two distinct morphotypes: a summer and a winter morph. Although adaptations associated with the winter morph enhance this invasive pest’s capacity to survive in cold climates, winter is still a natural population bottleneck. Since monitoring early spring populations is important for accurate population forecasts, understanding the winter morph’s response to olfactory cues may improve current D. suzukii management programs. In this study, a comparative transcriptome analysis was conducted to assess gene expression differences between the female heads of the two D. suzukii morphs, which showed significant differences in 738 genes (p = 0.0001). Out of twelve genes related to olfaction determined to be differentially expressed in the transcriptome, i.e., those related to location of food sources, chemosensory abilities, and mating behavior, nine genes were upregulated in the winter morph while three were downregulated. Three candidate olfactory-related genes that were most upregulated or downregulated in the winter morph were further validated using RT-qPCR. In addition, behavioral assays were performed at a range of temperatures to confirm a differing behavioral response of the two morphs to food odors. Our behavioral assays showed that, although winter morphs were more active at lower temperatures, the summer morphs were generally more attracted to food odors. This study provides new insights into the molecular and behavioral differences in response to olfactory cues between the two D. suzukii morphs that will assist in formulating more effective monitoring and physiological-based control tools.