Microbial composition affects the performance of an artificial Tephritid larval diet

P. Rempoulakis*, S. Sela (Saldinger), E. Nemny-Lavy, R. Pinto, A. Birke, D. Nestel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigated the patterns of microorganisms in an artificial larval diet during Dacus ciliatus (Diptera; Tephritidae) larval development. Microbial population contents in the diet of total heterotrophic bacteria, yeast and molds, coliform and lactobacilli, and their dynamics during development, were monitored. Initially, the microbial composition in diet trays failing to produce viable pupae and in trays successfully producing pupae and adult flies was characterized. The failing diet trays contained large populations of lactobacilli that increased during larval development, and low populations of coliforms. In contrast, the successful diet showed an increasing population of coliforms and a low, or undetected, population of lactobacilli. To study the hypothesis that lactobacilli affect D. ciliatus larval development, we conducted controlled inoculation experiments in which Lactobacillus plantarum was added into fresh diet at the time of egg seeding. L. plantarum inoculated trays showed no production of D. ciliatus. Control trays without lactobacilli inoculation showed variable results. One tray successfully produced viable pupae and adults, and showed a slight and slow increase in the indigenous populations of lactobacilli. The second tray, however, failed to produce pupae and showed a fast increase of the indigenous lactobacilli to very high levels. Monitored pH trends in L. plantarum-inoculated diet showed a sharp pH decrease during the first 4 days of larval development from 5 to less than 4 units, while successful diet, producing viable D. ciliatus pupae and adults, showed a moderate pH drop during most of the larval development period. The paper discusses the possible ecological interactions between D. ciliatus larvae, the microbial content of the diet and the physical properties of the diet. The discussion also points out at the usefulness of this approach in understanding and managing mass production parameters of tephritid fruit flies industrial diets used for Sterile Insect Technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-441
Number of pages8
JournalBulletin of Entomological Research
Issue number4
Early online date20 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • larval medium
  • lactobacilli
  • coliforms
  • mass rearing


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