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Topic: Capacity of adaptation and food preference in a major agro-economic invasive insect, Drosophila suzukii
Thesis supervisors: A. Estoup & M. Gautier
Dates: Septembre 1st, 2016 –

The specialization of a species to habitats and resources remains an important area of research in evolutionary biology. Theoretical explanations have been proposed, but few experimental data are currently available. We propose a range of research actions in order to test, in an applied context, some theoretical expectations using Drosophila suzukii as a biological model.

This species is an invasive species native to Asia and observed for the first time in 2008 in Southern Europe and North America where it spread very quickly. Potential adaptive capacity and food preferences of this insect pose major agronomic challenges.

Four main issues will be addressed.

  1. assess whether the host specialization is present in individuals collected in the field;
  2. test theoretical predictions through selection experiments on different host plants;
  3. assess whether mediated gene flow by humans can disrupt a possible specialization;
  4. analyze the genomes of experimental populations produced during quantitative genetic studies (issue 2) as well as populations collected in natura using high-throughput sequencing technologies (NGS) to identify genomic regions potentially subject to selection.

This set of studies combining theory and experiments will allow significant academic contributions and applied on a biological model and issues of major scientific and economic interest.