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Host shift triggers cascading effect on ecosystem, research finds
Date:2/5/2009

w species," he said. "And all this is happening right before our eyes in our own backyards."

The scientists, led by Forbes, studied genetic differences, diapause length and fruit odor preferences for apple-associated populations of D. alloeum wasps collected from numerous Midwestern sites. They collected the same measurements for D. alloeum in hawthorn, blueberry and snowberry.

Their work showed that D. alloeum associated with apple has genetic, phenological and ehavioral differences that isolate it from the other wasp populations. "D. alloeum attacks only R. pomonella complex flies found on these four host plants," Forbes said, "so we can be fairly confident that the apple wasp is derived from one of the other wasp populations and has rapidly evolved into this new race."

In its larval form, the apple maggot is a major pest of apples throughout the United States. Other Rhagoletis species attack cherries, walnuts and blueberries. The female apple maggot fly deposits her eggs in ripe fruit. The eggs then develop into larvae (maggots), which later leave the fruit to pupate and overwinter in the soil.

The parasitic wasp D. alloeum lays its eggs directly into the larva of the apple maggot as it feeds inside the fruit. The developing wasp eats the maggot and emerges the following year from its pupa.


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Contact: Kathy Keatley Garvey
kegarvey@ucdavis.edu
530-754-6894
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert  

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