Location
The identification of viral pathogens suitable for the control of Drosophila suzukii in the UK (Studentship)

Research

CP 122 - The identification of viral pathogens suitable for the control of Drosophila suzukii in the UK (Studentship)

Start Date: 
01/09/2014
Completion Date: 
31/08/2017
Project Leader: 
Dr Darren Obbard, University of Edinburgh
Code: 
CP 122

Industry representative: Marion Regan, Hugh Lowe Farms

HDC project cost: £67,878

 

Project summary:

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD; Drosophila suzukii) is a highly destructive pest of soft skinned fruit, currently causing substantial crop losses in Europe and the USA. Since detection in Italy (2008), this invasive has spread northward and now threatens fruit production in the UK (reported 2012). Effective control is challenging: short generation time and high fecundity lead to rapid population growth and because eggs are laid close to harvest, chemical control options are limited. Although pesticides and large-scale trapping have been proposed, both have drawbacks. In particular, chemical control is undesirable to retailers and consumers, interferes with integrated pest management, and will be negated by resistance evolution. A sustainable integrated pest management solution is therefore required.
This proposal will identify, isolate, and characterise viruses suitable for control of SWD. Because SWD is closely related to the laboratory model D. melanogaster, this work will capitalise on our knowledge of melanogaster genetics, immunity, and parasitology. This will require:
(1) Detection of novel viruses using a high-throughput metagenomic approach. We have used this approach successfully to identify multiple new viruses from D. melanogaster, including a DNA Nudivirus.
(2) The isolation of viruses capable of infecting SWD, either from SWD or from amongst viral sequences we have identified in other Drosophila (including the Nudivirus)
(3) The characterisation of viral pathology in SWD, for example: dosage curves, rates of mortality, transmission and variation for resistance.
The studentship will be based jointly at the University of Edinburgh (detection, isolation, analysis) and EMR (sampling, testing, delivery, dosage)
 
Aims and objectives:

This project will identify, isolate, and characterise viruses suitable for control of SWD, with a special focus on :

(1) The metagenomic detection of novel viruses from wild samples of SWD

(2) The isolation of viruses capable of infecting SWD, either from SWD or other British Drosophila

(3) The characterisation of viral pathology in SWD, including dosage, mortality, transmission and resistance.