Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
Microbes have crucial impacts on the ecology and evolution of their host and are therefore important factors in their biology. Our primary study system has been two Tephritid fruit flies in the genus Rhagoletis that have recently invaded or are quarantine pests in Europe. We characterize the endosymbionts for these two Rhagoletis species that attack walnuts and cherries and compare them with populations in their native ranges in the USA. We have also described endosymbionts in a third Rhagoletis species that is a pest of apples in the USA but has yet to reach Europe. Further, we study the importance of the parasitoid community in different Rhagoletis species as a source of vectoring endosymbionts.
Beside Rhagoletis, we are currently characterizing the microbial community of Cacopsylla species, important vectors of phytoplasmas. We study the tripartite interaction between the phytoplasma, the vector and its microbiome using a population genomic approach to adress the question what causes different phytoplasma transmission efficiencies in insect vectors using the Cacopsylla-phytoplasma pathosystem as a model. We are also performing phylogeographic as well as population genomic studies of spruce bark beetle species in Europe. Especially we investigate the associations of bark beetle populations with symbiontic bacteria and fungi to understand their role in the population dynamics of this important pest species.
Thomas presented our work Revisiting Wolbachia diversity between invasive and native Rhagoletis cherry fruit flies in the light of comparative genomics at the 54th Population Genetics Group Meeting hosted by the University of Liverpool.
Special Issue of Insects
Michael Gerth and I are editing a special issue of the open access journal Insects (ISSN 2075-4450, IF 2.139) entitled "Insect Symbionts: Evolution and Application". We welcome submissions covering the whole spectrum of insect–symbiont interaction, such as occurrence and diversity of insect symbionts, symbiont-induced host evolution, symbiont evolution within insects, and the usage of symbionts to combat insect pests.
For more information on the issue, please visit the Special Issue website.
If you are interested to contribute please send us a short abstract or tentative title.