Stably inherited transfer of the bacterial symbiont Candidatus Erwinia dacicola from wild olive fruit flies Bactrocera oleae to a laboratory strain.

Affiliation

Livadaras I(1), Koidou V(1)(2), Pitsili E(1)(2), Moustaka J(1)(2), Vontas J(1)(3), Siden-Kiamos I(1).
Author information:
(1)Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Heraklion70013, Greece.
(2)Department of Biology, University of Crete, Heraklion70013, Greece.
(3)Department of Crop Science, Pesticide Science Laboratory, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855Athens, Greece.

Abstract

The olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae, the most serious pest of olives, requires the endosymbiotic bacteria Candidatus Erwinia dacicola in order to complete its development in unripe green olives. Hence a better understanding of the symbiosis of Ca. E. dacicola and its insect host may lead to new strategies for reduction of B. oleae and thus minimize its economic impact on olive production. Studies of this symbiosis are hampered as the bacterium cannot be grown in vitro and the established B. oleae laboratory populations, raised on artificial diets, are devoid of this bacterium. Here, we sought to develop a method to transfer the bacteria from wild samples to laboratory populations. We tested several strategies. Cohabitation of flies from the field with the laboratory line did not result in a stable transfer of bacteria. We provided the bacteria directly to the egg and also in the food of the larvae but neither approach was successful. However, a robust method for transfer of Ca. E. dacicola from wild larvae or adults to uninfected flies by transplantation to females was established. Single female lines were set up and the bacteria were successfully transmitted for at least three generations. These results open up the possibilities to study the interaction between the symbiont and the host under controlled conditions, in view of both understanding the molecular underpinnings of an exciting, unique in nature symbiotic relationship, as well as developing novel, innovative control approaches.