Host plant usage and the evolution of polyphagy

Well identified evolutionary drivers generally result in insect herbivores becoming host specialists – that is most insects which feed on plants generally feed on only one plant species, or a small group of closely related plant species.  However, among the frugivorous tephritids host generalism (also known as polyphagy) is very common.  Nearly all of the major fruit fly pest species, including Mediterranean fruit fly, Oriental fruit fly, Queensland fruit fly, and South American fruit fly, are host plant generalists.  At QUT we have a long running research thread around this issue of polyphagy and host use in tephritids.   Our research covers purely theoretical considerations, ‘omic’ approaches to investigating fruit fly/host fruit interactions, chemical ecology and behavioral ecology.  There is never going to be a simple answer to this topic, but it is endlessly fascinating and informative.


Funding / Grants

  • The evolution of generalism: why so many polyphagous fruit flies. Australian Research Council Discovery Project, DP180101915 (2018 - 2021)

Team

Partners

Publications

  • , , & (2020) Effect of tomato fruit cultivar and ripening stage on Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) egg and larval survival. Journal of Applied Entomology, 144(9), pp. 797-805.
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  • & (2020) Does previous experience enhance foraging on a particular host in a polyphagous frugivore? Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 168(8), pp. 610-617.
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  • & (2020) The “sequential cues hypothesis”: A conceptual model to explain host location and ranking by polyphagous herbivores. Insect Science, 27(6), pp. 1136-1147.
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  • Wang, Yaohui, Andongma, Awawing, Dong, Yong-Cheng, Chen, Zhen-Zhong, Xu, Penghui, Ren, Xueming, , , & Niu, Chang-Ying (2019) Rh6 gene modulates the visual mechanism of host utilization in fruit fly Bactrocera minax. Pest Management Science, 75(6), pp. 1621-1629.
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  • (2017) Why so many polyphagous fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae)? A further contribution to the 'generalism' debate. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 120, pp. 245-257.
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  • , Carlsson, Mikael, , Dekker, Teun, & (2016) Do fruit ripening volatiles enable resource specialism in polyphagous fruit flies? Journal of Chemical Ecology, 42(9), pp. 931-940.
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  • , Drew, Richard, & (2013) Simultaneous tests of the preference-performance and phylogenetic conservatism hypotheses: is either theory useful? Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 7(3), pp. 299-313.
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  • Rattanapun, Wigunda, Amornsak, Weerawan, & (2010) Is a mango just a mango? Testing within-fruit oviposition site choice and larval performance of a highly polyphagous fruit fly. Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 4(1), pp. 35-44.
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  • (2008) Insect frugivore interactions : the potential for beneficial and neutral effects on host plants. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.
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