- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The spotlight is on spotted wing drosophila, a major fruit crop pest that wreaks economic havoc throughout the world.
Native to Southeast Asia, Drosophila suzukii infests soft-skinned fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches and grapes. The insect was first detected in the United States in 2008 when scientists identified it in the central coastal region of California. It can cause an estimated $300 million in damage annually to California crops.
Enter Kent Daane, Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley. He'll present a UC Davis seminar, hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, on "Classical Bio-Control of the Spotted Wing Drosophila: Collecting and Processing Parasitoids Through the Quarantine Process" from 4:10 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 18 in 122 Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive.
"A classical bio-control program has been undertaken against the olive fly using parasitoids imported from Africa and the spotted wing drosophila, both newly invasive species in California," Daane says. "Drs. Xingeng Wang and Antonio Biondi have been cooperating with other researchers in California, Oregon, Delaware, Hawaii, Italy, China, South Africa, South Korea and France by quarantine screening imported parasitoid species to determine their potential to control these invasive pests without causing any harm to non-target insects. The quarantine work is like the gatekeeper that screens imported material to allow only those natural enemies that will be beneficial into California."
The spotted-wing drosophila was first observed in Japan as early as 1916. The females lay their eggs in ripe and ripening fruit, unlike other Drosophila species known to infest overripe and blemished fruit. The larvae feed on the fruit. The adult is the only stage that can be targeted for control by conventional pesticides, according to integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis. The most commonly used insecticides are organophosphates, pyrethroids and spinosyns.
Daane, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley, focuses his research on the development of ecologically-based insect pest management systems. His research studies include classical biological control, augmentation programs, insect-plant interactions, use of least-disruptive insecticides and the biology of natural enemies."
Coordinators of the department's seminars are Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, and Brendon Boudinot, Ph.D candidate, Phil Ward lab.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Deep in the bowels of Briggs Hall on the UC Davis campus, entomology graduate student Kelly Hamby works on a pest that is giving growers fits: spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii).
First detected in California in the fall of 2008, the fly has become an significant pest of berry and cherry crops, which have a combined farmgate value of $1.9 billion.
“My research is focused on the molecular biology and genomics of insecticide resistance in this fly,” said Hamby, who works in the lab of her major professor, integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, professor and former vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
“It is closely related to the model organism Drosophila melanogaster for which much is already known, so I hope to draw from those studies to enhance mine. I plan to monitor the genomic changes as resistance develops in both the field and the lab, and use this information to help growers manage insecticide resistance. “
Her work has not gone unnoticed.
The Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (PBESA) is honoring her as the branch recipient of the Lillian and Alex Feir Graduate Student Travel Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry or Molecular Biology. She'll receive a commemorative plaque at an awards luncheon on Tuesday, March 29 at PBESA's meeting in Waikoloa, Hawaii.
The branch will then nominate and endorse her for the national award, to be given at the ESA's annual meeting Nov. 13-16 in Reno.
This is indeed a high honor.
PBESA encompasses 11 U.S. states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming); several U.S. territories, including American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands; and parts of Canada and Mexico.
Hamby, pursuing her doctorate in entomology, is a graduate of UC Davis with a bachelor of science degree in environmental toxicology. In her fruit fly project, she works closely with molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, a UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty member who specializes in molecular chronobiology.
"I greatly appreciate Joanna’s willingness to work with my students to add an exciting and useful new dimension to their work," Zalom said.
Dorothy Feir (1929-2008), the 1989 president of ESA, established the award as a tribute to her parents who, “at considerable self-sacrifice, "encouraged education and travel experience for their daughters,” she related.
Feir, who grew up in Missouri, received her doctorate in entomology from the University of Wisconsin in 1968; taught biology at St. Louis University, beginning in 1961; and was the first woman president of the now 6000-member ESA. ESA named her a fellow in 1993, an honor limited to only 10 persons a year.
Feir donated her multimillion estate to various institutions and organizations for the study of insects--so future entomologists can benefit.