Wolbachia in Parasitoids Attacking Native European and Introduced Eastern Cherry Fruit Flies in Europe

Schuler, Hannes; Kern, Peter; Arthofer, Wolfgang; Vogt, Heidrun GND; Fischer, Maximilian; Stauffer, Christian; Riegler, Markus

The eastern cherry fruit fly, Rhagoletis cingulata Loew (Diptera: Tephritidae), is an economically important pest of cherries in North America. In 1983 it was first reported in Europe where it shares its ecological niche with the native European cherry fruit fly, Rhagoletis cerasi L. (Diptera: Tephritidae). Their coexistence in Europe led to the recent horizontal transmission of the Wolbachia strain wCer1 from R. cerasi to R. cingulata. Horizontal Wolbachia transmission is mediated by either sharing of ecological niches or by interacting species such as parasitoids. Here we describe for the first time that two braconid wasps, Psyttalia rhagoleticola Sachtleben (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and Utetes magnus Fischer (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), naturally parasitizing R. cerasi, use the invasive R. cingulata in Europe as a new host. In contrast, no parasitoids that parasitize R. cingulata in its native American range were detected in the introduced European range. Diagnostic Wolbachia PCR screening and sequence analyses demonstrated that all P. rhagoleticola individuals were infected with the newly described Wolbachia strain wRha while all U. magnus individuals were uninfected. wRha is different from wCer1 but had an Wolbachia surface protein (wsp) gene sequence that was identical to wCer2 of R. cerasi and wCin2 of R. cingulata. However, multi locus sequence typing revealed differences in all loci between wRha and the tephritid’s strains. The horizontal transmission of wCer1 between the two tephritid species did not result in fixed heritable infections in the parasitoids. However, the parasitoids may have acted as a transient wCer1 vector.

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Schuler, Hannes / Kern, Peter / Arthofer, Wolfgang / et al: Wolbachia in Parasitoids Attacking Native European and Introduced Eastern Cherry Fruit Flies in Europe. 2016.

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