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Julien Cattel

Use of symbiotic Wolbachia to control populations of the pest of small fruits, Drosophila suzukii

Co-supervision with Laurence Mouton

The number of worldwide problems related to invasive species, which are largely due to human activities (development of international trade and intercontinental transportation), has strongly increased in the last years. Invasive species are generally considered as having a negative effect both on economy (crop damage and health
problems) and environment. In 2008, a fruit fly originated from Asia, Drosophila suzukii, was introduced almost simultaneously in America and Europe (Italy and France). In France, this species has spread across the country less than two years after its introduction and it is already causing serious damages, especially to cherry, strawberry and raspberry production. At the time, there is no approved chemical treatment effective against D. suzukii. The objective of this project is to develop an effective biocontrol strategy for controlling this pest based on the use of the symbiotic
bacteria Wolbachia. This bacterium, which infects many insect species, manipulates host reproduction by using several strategies, one of which is cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). CI results in embryonic mortality in matings between an infected male and an uninfected female. The mass release of males infected with a bacteria able to induce CI, like Wolbachia, could thus be used in a way analogous to the release of sterile males (autocidal control), a method that has already been used with success to control several arthropod pests such as the fuit fly Ceratitis capitata.