Climate stress resistance in male Queensland fruit fly varies among populations of diverse geographic origins and changes during domestication

Ángel-David Popa-Báez*, Siu Fai Lee, Heng Lin Yeap, Shirleen S. Prasad, Michele Schiffer, Roslyn G. Mourant, Cynthia Castro-Vargas, Owain R. Edwards, Phillip W. Taylor, John G. Oakeshott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The highly polyphagous Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni Froggatt) expanded its range substantially during the twentieth century and is now the most economically important insect pest of Australian horticulture, prompting intensive efforts to develop a Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) control program. Using a "common garden" approach, we have screened for natural genetic variation in key environmental fitness traits among populations from across the geographic range of this species and monitored changes in those traits induced during domestication.

Results: Significant variation was detected between the populations for heat, desiccation and starvation resistance and wing length (as a measure of body size). Desiccation resistance was correlated with both starvation resistance and wing length. Bioassay data for three resampled populations indicate that much of the variation in desiccation resistance reflects persistent, inherited differences among the populations. No latitudinal cline was detected for any of the traits and only weak correlations were found with climatic variables for heat resistance and wing length. All three stress resistance phenotypes and wing length changed significantly in certain populations with ongoing domestication but there was also a strong population by domestication interaction effect for each trait.

Conclusions: Ecotypic variation in heat, starvation and desiccation resistance was detected in Australian Qfly populations, and these stress resistances diminished rapidly during domestication. Our results indicate a need to select source populations for SIT strains which have relatively high climatic stress resistance and to minimise loss of that resistance during domestication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalBMC Genetics
Issue numberSuppl 2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Bactrocera tryoni
  • Heat resistance
  • Desiccation resistance
  • Ecotypic variation
  • Domestication effects


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