Systematics and diagnostics

There are over 500 named species of fruit fly across Asia, Australia and Pacific.  While the taxonomy of most species is known, there remain many problematic issues around the identification of fruit flies.  The tephritids contain many groups of closely related or ‘sibling’ species, where the biological and taxonomic boundaries between species are uncertain.  Other species have very large geographic distributions, and so it is unclear how much biological variation may occur within a species.  All of these problems are confounded by a decline in taxonomic expertise, which makes the accurate identification of fruit flies problematic for many organisations and researchers.

The QUT Fruit Fly Group has worked actively in this space, carrying out higher level systematics research using molecular tools, species level research using genetic, behavioural and morphometric tools, and then diagnostics research and development to support Australian and regional biosecurity.  As key team members have moved to positions in new organisations, the QUTFFG has wound back from this field, and our present work (as at the start of 2021) is finalising the work of recently completed PhD graduate Melissa Starkie.  Publications from previous work can be found here.