The host fruit amplifies mutualistic interaction between Ceratitis capitata larvae and associated bacteria

Doron Shalom Yishai Zaada*, Michael Ben-Yosef, Boaz Yuval, Edouard Jurkevitch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: The Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata is a major pest in horticulture. The development of fly larvae is mediated by bacterial decay in the fruit tissue. Despite the importance of bacteria on larval development, very little is known about the interaction between bacteria and larvae in their true ecological context. Understanding their relationship and inter-dependence in the host fruit is important for the development of new pest control interfaces to deal with this pest. Results: We find no negative effects on egg hatch or larval development brought about by the bacterial isolates tested. The various symbionts inhabiting the fly's digestive system differ in their degree of contribution to the development of fly larvae depending on the given host and their sensitivity to induced inhibition caused by female produced antimicrobial peptides. These differences were observed not only at the genus or species level but also between isolates of the same species. We demonstrate how the microbiota from the mother's gut supports the development of larvae in the fruit host and show that larvae play a major role in spreading the bacterial contagion in the infected fruit itself. In addition, we present (for the first time) evidence for horizontal transfer of bacteria between larvae of different maternal origin that develop together in the same fruit. Conclusions: Larvae play a major role in the spread and shaping of the microbial population in the fruit. The transfer of bacteria between different individuals developing in the same fruit suggests that the infested fruit serves as a microbial hub for the amplification and spread of bacterial strains between individuals.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number92
JournalBMC Biotechnology
StatePublished - 18 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Ceratitis
  • Enterobacteriacae
  • Horizontal transfer
  • Symbiosis
  • Tephritidae


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