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.
- We were the first, in 2011, to propose the elevation of the subgenus Bactrocera (Zeugodacus) to generic status based on the results of molecular systematics. That taxonomic elevation was subsequently made in 2015 by Virgilio and colleagues, and by 2018 has been generally accepted by the international fruit fly community with significant flow-on effects for all aspects of fruit fly management.
- 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.
- In 2015, former QUT Fruit fly Group research fellow 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 fly. The 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.
- 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.
- We have added to international theory on herbivore host range with a series of review papers on different aspects of polyphagy
Major research areas
Supporting pest management
Fruit flies are major pests of horticulture. The QUT fruit fly group carries out strategic research, which supports the development of novel fruit fly controls, or helps improve existing controls. For our applied projects we work with most Australian state governments, the Commonwealth government, and international and multi-national organisations.
Evolutionary ecology & behaviour
While some species are major pests of agriculture, most fruit flies are non-pests which remain restricted to their native habitats – commonly rainforest. The great diversity of fruit flies, and their close association with plants, make them highly attractive models for biological research on topics as fundamental as speciation and co-evolution.
Systematics population structure & diagnostics
There are many hundreds of different species of fruit fly across Asia, Australia and Pacific. The ability to quickly and accurately identify unknown fruit fly specimens is dependent on knowing the relationship of that specimen to other members of its own and other species. Our work in this area underpins all other research that we do.