Backround: Commensal microbes can promote survival and growth of developing insects, and have important fitness implications in adulthood. Insect larvae can acquire commensal microbes through two main routes: by vertical acquisition from maternal deposition of microbes on the eggshells and by horizontal acquisition from the environment where the larvae develop. To date, however, little is known about how microbes acquired through these different routes interact to shape insect development. In the present study, we investigated how vertically and horizontally acquired microbiota influence larval foraging behaviour, development time to pupation and pupal production in the Queensland fruit fly ('Qfly'), Bactrocera tryoni.
Results: Both vertically and horizontally acquired microbiota were required to maximise pupal production in Qfly. Moreover, larvae exposed to both vertically and horizontally acquired microbiota pupated sooner than those exposed to no microbiota, or only to horizontally acquired microbiota. Larval foraging behaviour was also influenced by both vertically and horizontally acquired microbiota. Larvae from treatments exposed to neither vertically nor horizontally acquired microbiota spent more time overall on foraging patches than did larvae of other treatments, and most notably had greater preference for diets with extreme protein or sugar compositions.
Conclusion: The integrity of the microbiota early in life is important for larval foraging behaviour, development time to pupation, and pupal production in Qflies. These findings highlight the complexity of microbial relations in this species, and provide insights to the importance of exposure to microbial communities during laboratory-or mass-rearing of tephritid fruit flies.
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- Larval behaviour