Effect of dietary components on larval life history characteristics in the medfly (Ceratitis capitata: Diptera, Tephritidae)

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Background: The ability to respond to heterogenous nutritional resources is an important factor in the adaptive radiation of insects such as the highly polyphagous Medfly. Here we examined the breadth of the Medfly’s capacity to respond to different developmental conditions, by experimentally altering diet components as a proxy for host quality and novelty.
Methodology/Principal Findings: We tested responses of larval life history to diets containing protein and carbohydrate components found in and outside the natural host range of this species. A 40% reduction in the quantity of protein caused a significant increase in egg to adult mortality by 26.5%±6% in comparison to the standard baseline diet. Proteins and carbohydrates had differential effects on larval versus pupal development and survival. Addition of a novel protein source, casein (i.e. milk protein), to the diet increased larval mortality by 19.4%±3% and also lengthened the duration of larval development by 1.93±0.5 days in comparison to the standard diet. Alteration of dietary carbohydrate, by replacing the baseline starch with simple sugars, increased mortality specifically within the pupal stage (by 28.2%±8% and 26.2%±9% for glucose and maltose diets, respectively). Development in the presence of the novel carbohydrate lactose (milk sugar) was successful, though on this diet there was a decrease of 29.8±1.6 µg in mean pupal weight in comparison to pupae reared on the baseline diet.
Conclusions: The results confirm that laboratory reared Medfly retain the ability to survive development through a wide range of fluctuations in the nutritional environment. We highlight new facets of the responses of different stages of holometabolous life histories to key dietary components. The results are relevant to colonisation scenarios and key to the biology of this highly invasive species.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere86029
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2014

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