Two major fruit fly pest species, Bactrocera dorsalis and B. umbrosa, are strongly attracted to methyl eugenol (ME) found in >450 plant species. They are, however, exclusive pollinators of certain daciniphilous (attracting Dacini fruit flies) Bulbophyllum orchids. A comparison between the recaptures of feral males after feeding ad libitum on 0.6 mg ME (simulating an average floral quantity of an orchid flower - Trial 1) and 480 mg in Trial 2 was investigated using the non-invasive capture-mark-release-recapture (CMRR) technique. Based on daily CMRR over a 16-day period, using a different colour enamel paint each day, percentages of B. dorsalis males recaptured in Trial 1 were significantly higher than those in Trial 2. However, for B. umbrosa, percentages of recaptures for different day-specific colours were highly variable due to low fly numbers captured/day. In Trial 1, of 756 B. dorsalis males released, 36.4% were recaptured once, 7.7 twice, 2.4 three times and 0.4 four times. While in Trial 2 of 1157 released males, 6% were recaptured once and 0.3% twice. Of 67 B. umbrosa males released, 28.4% were recaptured once and none more than once in Trial 1. Nevertheless, of 119 flies released in Trial 2, 25.2% were recaptured once and 3.3% twice. Overall, many marked males did return to a single ME-source to 'refuel' ME (a sex pheromone precursor). The results also show that a relatively high number of flies paid multi-visitations to a single 0.6 mg ME-source and indicate that the presence of natural ME-sources may impact area-wide IPM programmes.
Arthropod communities in the tropics are increasingly impacted by rapid changes in land use. Because species showing distinct seasonal patterns of activity are thought to be at higher risk of climate-related extirpation, global warming is generally considered a lower threat to arthropod biodiversity in the tropics than in temperate regions. To examine changes associated with land use and weather variables in tropical arthropod communities, we deployed Malaise traps at three major anthropogenic forests (secondary reserve forest, oil palm forest, and urban ornamental forest (UOF)) in Peninsular Malaysia and collected arthropods continuously for 12 months. We used metabarcoding protocols to characterize the diversity within weekly samples. We found that changes in the composition of arthropod communities were significantly associated with maximum temperature in all the three forests, but shifts were reversed in the UOF compared with the other forests. This suggests arthropods in forests in Peninsular Malaysia face a double threat: community shifts and biodiversity loss due to exploitation and disturbance of forests which consequently put species at further risk related to global warming. We highlight the positive feedback mechanism of land use and temperature, which pose threats to the arthropod communities and further implicates ecosystem functioning and human well-being. Consequently, conservation and mitigation plans are urgently needed.
The Artocarpus fruit fly, Bactrocera umbrosa (Fabricius) (Diptera: Tephritidae), is an oligophagous fruit pest infesting Moraceae fruits, including jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lamarck), a fruit commodity of high value in Malaysia. The scarcity of fundamental biological, physiological and ecological information on this pest, particularly in relation to behavioural response to phytochemical lures, which are instrumental to the success of many area-wide fruit fly control and management programmes, underpins the need for studies on this much-underrated pest. The positive response of B. umbrosa males to methyl eugenol (ME), a highly potent phytochemical lure, which attracts mainly males of many Bactrocera species, was shown to increase with increasing age. As early as 7 days after emergence (DAE), ca. 22% of males had responded to ME and over 50% by 10 DAE, despite no occurrence of matings (i.e. the males were still sexually immature). Male attraction to ME peaked from 10 to 27 DAE, which corresponded with the flies' attainment of sexual maturity. In wind-tunnel assays during the dusk courtship period, ME-fed males exhibited earlier calling activity and attracted a significantly higher percentage of virgin females compared with ME-deprived males. ME-fed males enjoyed a higher mating success than ME-deprived males at 1-day post ME feeding in semi-field assays. ME consumption also promotes aggregation behaviour in B. umbrosa males, as demonstrated in wind-tunnel and semi-field assays. We suggest that ME plays a prominent role in promoting sexual communication and enhancing mating performance of the Artocarpus fruit fly, a finding that is congruent with previous reports on the consequences of ME acquisition by other economically important Bactrocera species.
Metabarcoding, the coupling of DNA-based species identification and high-throughput sequencing, offers enormous promise for arthropod biodiversity studies but factors such as cost, speed and ease-of-use of bioinformatic pipelines, crucial for making the leapt from demonstration studies to a real-world application, have not yet been adequately addressed. Here, four published and one newly designed primer sets were tested across a diverse set of 80 arthropod species, representing 11 orders, to establish optimal protocols for Illumina-based metabarcoding of tropical Malaise trap samples. Two primer sets which showed the highest amplification success with individual specimen polymerase chain reaction (PCR, 98%) were used for bulk PCR and Illumina MiSeq sequencing. The sequencing outputs were subjected to both manual and simple metagenomics quality control and filtering pipelines. We obtained acceptable detection rates after bulk PCR and high-throughput sequencing (80-90% of input species) but analyses were complicated by putative heteroplasmic sequences and contamination. The manual pipeline produced similar or better outputs to the simple metagenomics pipeline (1.4 compared with 0.5 expected:unexpected Operational Taxonomic Units). Our study suggests that metabarcoding is slowly becoming as cheap, fast and easy as conventional DNA barcoding, and that Malaise trap metabarcoding may soon fulfill its potential, providing a thermometer for biodiversity.
Chinese knotweed (Persicaria chinensis) is of ecological and economic importance as a high-risk invasive species and a traditional medicinal herb. However, the insects associated with P. chinensis pollination have received scant attention. As a widespread invasive plant we would expect P. chinensis to be associated with a diverse group of insect pollinators, but lack of taxonomic identification capacity is an impediment to confirm this expectation. In the present study we aimed to elucidate the insect pollinators of P. chinensis in peninsular Malaysia using DNA barcoding. Forty flower visitors, representing the range of morphological diversity observed, were captured at flowers at Ulu Kali, Pahang, Malaysia. Using Automated Barcode Gap Discovery, 17 morphospecies were assigned to 23 species representing at least ten families and four orders. Using the DNA barcode library (BOLD) 30% of the species could be assigned a species name, and 70% could be assigned a genus name. The insects visiting P. chinensis were broadly similar to those previously reported as visiting Persicaria japonica, including honey bees (Apis), droneflies (Eristalis), blowflies (Lucilia) and potter wasps (Eumedes), but also included thrips and ants.
Two types of municipal solid waste (MSW), newly arrived and 2 weeks old, were sampled from a sanitary landfill in Pulau Pinang, Malaysia at a fortnightly interval and kept under field conditions for 2 weeks. A total of 480 kg of each type of MSW was sampled to study species composition and impact of delays in cover soil applications on filth fly emergence. Out of 960 kg of MSW sampled, 9.2 ± 0.5 flies emerged per kilogram. Weekly adult fly emergence rates of newly arrived and 2-week-old waste did not differ significantly and MSW remained suitable for fly breeding for up to 1 month. Eight species of flies emerged from the MSW: namely, Musca domestica, Musca sorbens, Synthesiomyia nudiseta, Hydrotaea chalcogaster, Chrysomya megacephala, Lucilia cuprina, Hemipyrellia ligurriens and Sarcophaga sp. Newly arrived waste was determined to be the main source for M. domestica, C. megacephala and L. cuprina in the landfill owing to significantly higher mean emergence compared with 2-week-old waste. Musca sorbens was found in newly arrived waste but not in 2-week-old waste, suggesting that the species was able to survive transportation to landfill but unable to survive landfill conditions. Hemipyrellia ligurriens, H. chalcogaster and S. nudiseta were not imported into the landfill with MSW and pre-existing flies in and around the landfill itself may be their source. The results show that landfills can be a major source of fly breeding if cover soil or temporary cover is not applied daily or on a regular schedule.
Four morphologically cryptic species of the Bactrocera dorsalis fruit fly complex (B. dorsalis s.s., B. papayae, B. carambolae and B. philippinensis) are serious agricultural pests. As they are difficult to diagnose using traditional taxonomic techniques, we examined the potential for geometric morphometric analysis of wing size and shape to discriminate between them. Fifteen wing landmarks generated size and shape data for 245 specimens for subsequent comparisons among three geographically distinct samples of each species. Intraspecific wing size was significantly different within samples of B. carambolae and B. dorsalis s.s. but not within samples of B. papayae or B. philippinensis. Although B. papayae had the smallest wings (average centroid size=6.002 mm±0.061 SE) and B. dorsalis s.s. the largest (6.349 mm±0.066 SE), interspecific wing size comparisons were generally non-informative and incapable of discriminating species. Contrary to the wing size data, canonical variate analysis based on wing shape data discriminated all species with a relatively high degree of accuracy; individuals were correctly reassigned to their respective species on average 93.27% of the time. A single sample group of B. carambolae from locality 'TN Malaysia' was the only sample to be considerably different from its conspecific groups with regards to both wing size and wing shape. This sample was subsequently deemed to have been originally misidentified and likely represents an undescribed species. We demonstrate that geometric morphometric techniques analysing wing shape represent a promising approach for discriminating between morphologically cryptic taxa of the B. dorsalis species complex.
The incubation period of Spodoptera exigua (Hübner) was not influenced by the host plant, whereas larval development time and pupal period were affected. Larval development time was longest on shallot and lady's finger, followed by cabbage and long bean. Larvae did not develop beyond the first instar when fed on chilli. The pupal period was longer on lady's finger than on cabbage, shallot and long bean. Overall, adult longevity was not influenced by the host plant but there was a difference between female and male longevity among the host plants. Survival of S. exigua was affected by the host plant at the larval stage. The number of larval instars varied between 5 and 8 within and between the studied host plants. Long bean was found to be the most suitable host plant and provide the best food quality for S. exigua compared to the other host plants, as it allowed faster development, fewer larval instars and a higher survival rate.
Sex pheromonal components of the tephritid fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), 2-allyl-4,5-dimethoxyphenol and (E)-coniferyl alcohol, are biosynthesized from a highly potent male attractant, methyl eugenol, then sequestered and stored in the rectal gland prior to their release during courtship at dusk. These sex pheromonal components have been detected in the haemolymph and crop organ. Hence, attempts were made to separate and identify the haemolymph fractions which contained the sex pheromonal components. Identification of these bioactive fractions in methyl eugenol-fed male flies using gel filtration column chromatography and biodetection using live male flies showed two fractions as highly attractive to conspecific males. These fractions show a significant increase in protein absorbance in the elution profile of haemolymph from methyl eugenol-fed males compared with that from methyl eugenol-deprived males. The molecular mass of these bioactive fractions as determined by using gel filtration was in the peptide range of 3.3 to 5.5 kDa. Subsequent gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses further confirmed the presence of the pheromonal components in the bioactive fractions. The presence of these methyl eugenol-derived sex pheromonal components in specific haemolymph fractions suggests the involvement of a sex pheromone binding complex.
Insect seed predators of 24 dipterocarp species (including the genera ot Dipterocarpus, Dryobalanops and Shorea) and five species belonging to the Moraceae, Myrtaceae, Celastraceae and Sapotaceae were investigated. In a tropical lowland dipterocarp forest in Sarawak, Malaysia, these trees produces seeds irregularly by intensely during general flowering and seeding events in 1996 and/or 1998. Dipterocarp seeds were preyed on by 51 insect species (11 families), which were roughly classified into three taxonomic groups: smaller moths (Trotricidae, Pyralidae, Crambidae, Immidae, Sesiidae, and Cosmopterigidae), scolytids (Scolydae) and weevils (Curdulionidae, Apionidae, Anthribidae, and Attelabidae). Although the host-specificity of invertebrate seed predators has been assumed to be high in tropical forests, it was found that the diet ranges of some insect predators were relatively wide and overlapped one another. Most seed predators that were collected in both study years changes their diets between general flowering and seeding events. The results of cluster analyses based on the number of adult of each predator species that emerged from 100 seeds of each tree species, suggested that the dominant species was not consistent, alternating between the two years.
The diversity of beetle assemblages in different habitat types (primary forest, logged forest, acacia plantation and oil palm plantation) in Sabah, Malaysia was investigated using three different methods based on habitat levels (Winkler sampling, flight-interception-trapping and mist-blowing). The overall diversity was extremely high, with 1711 species recorded from only 8028 individuals and 81 families (115 family and subfamily groups). Different degrees of environmental changes had varying effects on the beetle species richness and abundance, with oil palm plantation assemblage being most severely affected, followed by acacia plantation and then logged forest. A few species became numerically dominant in the oil palm plantation. In terms of beetle species composition, the acacia fauna showed much similarity with the logged forest fauna, and the oil palm fauna was very different from the rest. The effects of environmental variables (number of plant species, sapling and tree densities, amount of leaf litter, ground cover, canopy cover, soil pH and compaction) on the beetle assemblage were also investigated. Leaf litter correlated with species richness, abundance and composition of subterranean beetles. Plant species richness, tree and sapling densities correlated with species richness, abundance and composition of understorey beetles while ground cover correlated only with the species richness and abundance of these beetles. Canopy cover correlated only with arboreal beetles. In trophic structure, predators represented more than 40% of the species and individuals. Environmental changes affected the trophic structure with proportionally more herbivores (abundance) but fewer predators (species richness and abundance) in the oil palm plantation. Biodiversity, conservation and practical aspects of pest management were also highlighted in this study.