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Antoine Rombaut

Email: antoine.rombaud(at)
Topic: Understanding and fighting Drosophila suzukii on the vineyard agrosystem to prevent damages
Dates: October 1st, 2015 – September 30th, 2018
Supervisor: S. Fellous
Thesis co-directors: F. Vanlerberghe & P. Gibert (LBBE, Lyons)
University: Montpellier SupAgro
Funding: Agropolis Fondation 50%, BIVB 25%, CIVC 25%

Europe since 2008 (Rota-Stabelli et al., 2013). On the contrary of other Drosophilae which can only lay eggs on damaged fruits, D. suzukii females are able thanks to their serrated ovipositor to lay eggs directly inside ripening fruits by coming through their skin (Walsh et al., 2011). This ability caused a lot of damages on flesh fruits cultures, even more that D. suzukii is very polyphagous and has a short life cycle (Lee et al., 2011). These damages are caused mostly because of the larvae growing inside the fruits and the entrance of pathogens through the wounds caused by the oviposition (Cini et al., 2012). Nevertheless, only few methods of biological controls seems efficient, and using phytosanitary treatment might be difficult because of the ripening stage of the fruits (Cuthbertson et al., 2014; Woltz et al., 2014).

D. suzukii is already known to have a negative impact on fresh fruits cultures like cranberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries (Asplen et al., 2015). D. suzukii is for the first time suspected to have dealt important damages on vineyards in 2014: a lot of individuals were observed compared to previous years. This population peak coincide with a large amount of sour rot cases, which is a disease caused by a community of acetic bacteria and yeasts, making the grapes improper for consumption (Barata et al., 2012). The role of other Drosophila species like D. melanogaster and D. simulans in propagating the sour rot is already known, but no study involved D. suzukii.

The main goals of this PhD are:

  • to determine how D. suzukii is implied in propagating the sour rot,
  • to study competitive interactions between D. suzukii and other Drosophila species, specifically the role of their symbiotic organisms in the competition,
  • in the end, developing a biological control for D. suzukii.

Asplen MK, Anfora G, Biondi A, Choi D-S, Chu D, Daane KM, Gibert P, Gutierrez AP, Hoelmer K, Hutchison WD et al. 2015. Invasion biology of spotted wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii): a global perspective and future priorities. Journal of Pest Science.

Barata A, Santos SC, Malfeito-Ferreira M & Loureiro V. 2012. New Insights into the Ecological Interaction Between Grape Berry Microorganisms and Drosophila Flies During the Development of Sour Rot. Microbial Ecology 64: 416–430.

Cini A, Ioriatti C & Anfora G., 2012. A review of the invasion of Drosophila suzukii in Europe and a draft research agenda for integrated pest management. Bulletin of Insectology 65: 149–160.

Cuthbertson AGS, Collins DA, Blackburn LF, Audsley N & Bell HA. 2014. Preliminary screening of potential control products against Drosophila suzukii. Insects 5: 488–498.

Lee JC, Bruck DJ, Dreves AJ, Ioriatti C, Vogt H & Baufeld P. 2011. In Focus: Spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, across perspectives. Pest Management Science 67: 1349–1351.

Rota-Stabelli O, Blaxter M & Anfora G. 2013.Drosophila suzukii. Current Biology 23: R8–R9.

Walsh DB, Bolda MP, Goodhue RE, Dreves AJ, Lee J, Bruck DJ, Walton VM, O’Neal SD & Zalom FG. 2011.Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae): Invasive Pest of Ripening Soft Fruit Expanding its Geographic Range and Damage Potential. Journal of Integrated Pest Management 2: 1–7.

Woltz JM, Donahue KM, Bruck DJ & Lee JC. 2014. Efficacy of commercially available predators, nematodes and fungal entomopathogens for augmentative control of Drosophila suzukii. Journal of Applied Entomology.