Yeast baits and insect vision are latest fronts in spotted-wing Drosophila control

The latest fronts in the battle against spotted-wing Drosophila (SWD) have been opened at the University of Lincoln, where researchers are taking two novel and very different approaches to tackling the invasive soft fruit pest.

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has awarded research funding of £70,500 each to support the two PhD studentships, supervised by Professor Matthew Goddard from the University's Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT) and Dr Michael Mangan of the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems (L-CAS).

Goddard's previous research has already found that particular strains of yeast are attractants for other Drosophila (fruit fly) species,and now his PhD researcher will examine whether yeast can be used in attract-and-kill baits for control in early and late season fruit production.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Lincoln and Cambridge research station NIAB EMR.

The other studentship will build on Mangan's previous work examining how insects use vision to navigate in complex habitats.

He said: "As part of this new study, we will develop camera systems to mimic the vision of SWD, and explore whether or not it is possible to stop the pests from seeing ripening fruit just by changing the light conditions in which they grow."

This second studentship will be carried out in collaboration with industry partner Berry Gardens, with trials eventually being held in advanced polytunnels at LIAT's Riseholme Campus.

The researchers also aim to combine this work with other ongoing projects at Lincoln to develop automated crop harvesting systems.

AHDB knowledge exchange manager Scott Raffle said: "Given the nature of this pest, we need to find a variety of management and control techniques.

"The work being done by the University of Lincoln in conjunction with NIAB EMR will further complement our extensive efforts at AHDB."

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