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Differential Susceptibility of Wild and Cultivated Blueberries to an Invasive Frugivorous Pest

Abstract

Highbush blueberry is a crop native to the northeast USA that has been domesticated for about 100 years. This study compared the susceptibility of wild and domesticated/cultivated highbush blueberries to an invasive frugivorous pest, the spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). We hypothesized that: 1) cultivated fruits are preferred by D. suzukii for oviposition and better hosts for its offspring than wild fruits; and, 2) wild and cultivated fruits differ in physico-chemical traits. Fruits from wild and cultivated blueberries were collected from June through August of 2015 and 2016 from 10 to 12 sites in New Jersey (USA); with each site having wild and cultivated blueberries growing in close proximity. The preference and performance of D. suzukii on wild and cultivated blueberries were studied in choice and no-choice bioassays. In addition, we compared size, firmness, acidity (pH), total soluble solids (°Brix), and nutrient, phenolic, and anthocyanin content between wild and cultivated berries. In choice and no-choice bioassays, more eggs were oviposited in, and more flies emerged from, cultivated than wild blueberries. Cultivated fruits were 2x bigger, 47% firmer, 14% less acidic, and had lower °Brix, phenolic, and anthocyanin amounts per mass than wild fruits. Levels of potassium and boron were higher in cultivated fruits, while calcium, magnesium, and copper were higher in wild fruits. These results show that domestication and/or agronomic practices have made blueberries more susceptible to D. suzukii, which was associated with several physico-chemical changes in fruits. Our study documents the positive effects of crop domestication/cultivation on an invasive insect pest.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the technical assistance of Matthew Strom, Evan Gunn, Robert Holdcraft, and Vera Kyryczenko-Roth, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. We also wish to thank the blueberry growers who allowed us access to their farms and to adjacent wild sites. This research was supported by funds from the USDA NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) program (No. 2015-51181-24252), the New Jersey Blueberry and Cranberry Research Council, and hatch projects NJ08192 and NJ08140.

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Correspondence to Cesar Rodriguez-Saona.

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Rodriguez-Saona, C., Cloonan, K.R., Sanchez-Pedraza, F. et al. Differential Susceptibility of Wild and Cultivated Blueberries to an Invasive Frugivorous Pest. J Chem Ecol 45, 286–297 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-018-1042-1

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Keywords

  • Highbush blueberry
  • Vaccinium corymbosum
  • Spotted wing drosophila
  • Drosophila suzukii
  • Preference-performance
  • Physical attributes
  • Fruit chemistry