Yeasts Influence Host Selection and Larval Fitness in Two Frugivorous Carpophilus Beetle Species Academic Article uri icon


  • We explored how gut-associated yeasts influence olfactory behaviour and resource use in two pest species of Carpophilus beetle that co-exist in Australian stone fruits. Molecular analysis of yeasts isolated from the gut of C. davidsoni (prefers ripe fruits) and C. hemipterus (prefers overripe and rotting fruits) revealed that the predominant species were Pichia kluyveri and Hanseniaspora guilliermondii. In olfactory attraction and oviposition trials, adult beetles preferred H. guilliermondii over P. kluyveri, and follow up GC-MS analysis revealed unambiguous differences between the odour profiles of these yeasts. In contrast to behavioural trials, larval feeding assays showed that fruit substrates inoculated with P. kluyveri yielded significantly faster development times, higher pupal mass, and a greater number of adult beetles, compared to H. guilliermondii - in other words, the lesser preferred yeast (by foraging adults) was more suitable for larval survival. Moreover, whilst larvae of both species survived to adulthood when fed solely on P. kluyveri (i.e. without a fruit substrate), only larvae of C. davidsoni could develop on H. guilliermondii; and only C. davidsoni reached adulthood feeding on a yeast-free fruit substrate. We discuss how these findings may relate to adaptations towards early colonising of fruits by C. davidsoni, enabling differences in resource use and potentially resource partitioning in the two beetles. More broadly, consideration of microbial interactions might help develop host selection theory. Our results could pave the way to more powerful attractants to mass-trap and monitor Carpophilus pests in fruit orchards.

publication date

  • 2020