Research

Key achievements

Our goal is to carry out research which underpins the sustainable management of fruit fly pests, both in Australia and globally.  Internationally significant achievements of the QUT Fruit Fly Group, stemming from our core research strengths, include.

  1. In 2014, we were the first to identify that male lures are metabolism enhancers in fruit flies, starting a new research thrust in Australia and internationally on how these chemicals can be used as pre-release supplements to improve Bactrocera males mass-reared for the SIT.
  2. In 2015, former QUT Fruit fly Group research fellow Dr Mark Schutze was the first of 49 multi-national authors on the paper which formally synonymized the Asian Papaya and African Invasive fruit flies with Oriental fruit flyThe recognition that these three major pest species were, in fact, all the same biological species, was almost instantly adopted by the global community with greatly increased sustainable pest management and international market access opportunities in Africa and Asia.
  3. In 2018 we published the first methodology for studying the epigenomes of tephritid fruit flies, opening a whole new avenue for leading-edge genomic research in these flies.
  4. We have added to international theory on herbivore host range with a series of review and research papers on different aspects of polyphagy.  These include evolutionary arguments for why polyphagy is so prevalent in the tropical fruit flies; and a theoretical model (“the sequential cues hypothesis”) to explain how generalist herbivores can rank potential hosts despite neural limitation.
  5. We have identified what we believe to be a quiescence stage in adult tropical fruit flies associated with surviving monsoonal dry seasons when hosts are lacking.  This finding is currently being tested across a range of field sites and with different tools (molecular, physiology, phenology).  If confirmed it will fundamentally change our understanding of fruit fly phenology.

Major research areas