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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Chronophysiology of Spotted Wing Drosophila

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This project will identify the daily and season behavioural rhythms of Drosophila suzukii (spotted wing drosophila, SWD) in order to exploit its behaviour for future pest control in UK fruit crops. It will determine the environmental factors that affect behaviour and how these interact with pesticide efficacy and trapping.

D. suzukii is a currently a seriously damaging pest of soft- and stone- fruit crops. To achieve more efficient management of this newly invasive pest it will be useful to predict the daily and seasonal fluctuations in behaviour to target strategies for more effective control. The proposed project will test daily patterns of activity, feeding and egg laying under spring, mid-summer and autumn conditions simulated in the laboratory. Further laboratory experiments will identify the contribution of light, temperature, humidity and internal timekeeping mechanisms to these observed rhythms. Parallel field trapping experiments will verify D. suzukii behaviour patterns in vulnerable crops and in wild areas where D. suzukii is known to overwinter. Once these parameters are understood the student will examine the vulnerability of the various stages to pesticide applications and how pesticides interact with field temperatures and D. suzukii behaviour, throughout the day, in their efficacy. Finally, grower recommendations regarding the likely activity and control of D. suzukii based on time of year, time of day, and weather conditions will be made.

Female Spotted Wing Drosophila with egg protruding from its ovipositor. (Image copyright, Bethan Shaw)
Female Spotted Wing Drosophila with egg (Image copyright, Bethan Shaw)

Funding Provider: AHDB Horticulture
Funding Dates: October 2015- September 2018
Supervisors: Herman Wijnen, PhD (main supervisor), Lex Kraaijeveld, PhD (co-supervisor), Michelle Fountain, PhD (co-supervisor), NIAB EMR

Research Groups

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS)
Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG)

Related research groups

Environmental Biosciences
Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
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