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Improving the attractiveness of cuelure for better detection and eradication of invasive fruit flies

This three-year project finished in mid-2022.

Project Abstract

Background:Fruit fly genus Bactrocera comprises more than 500 species including many fruit pests of economic importance. Of these, there are 250 Bactrocera spp. that respond to cuelure. Compared to other fruitflies attractants, cuelure is considered to have moderate activity.

The project aim was to develop a more effective attractant(s) for various species of fruit flies, based on the synthesis and testing of carefully selected and scientifically sound analogues of cuelure.

Methods: We synthesized 36 analogues of cuelure based on a modification of three function groups (Carbonyl group, Ester group and Ketone group). These 36 analogues were field tested in Queensland, Australia for the attraction of various species of fruit flies in three successive field seasons.

Results: Any minor alteration to the carbonyl group in cuelure resulted in the molecule becoming completely inactive. Similarly, all the diester analogues of cuelure were inactive. Field testing of diketone and ester analogues resulted in the identification of an analogue that was significantly more attractive than cuelure over six weeks period.

Conclusions: The identification of a more potent analogue of cuelure will open the opportunity for the development of more effective attractant(s) for various species of fruit flies that respond to cuelure, especially the Queensland fruit fly. In addition, the work has characterized the functional groups that can’t be modified, and the group that can be modified to produce a better molecule than cuelure. This knowledge could help to develop a better lure for fruit flies.

Biosecurity outcome

The development of more effective attractant(s) for various species of fruit flies that respond to cuelure (mainly QFF and melon fly), based on synthesis and testing of new analogues of cuelure to improve surveillance and eradication of these species.

Science outcome

In a first of its type study for FF, the structure (compound)-activity (FF) relationship is better understood based on a study of a wide range of synthesized compounds.

For more information and publications on this and other B3 projects, visit Zotero.

The Zotero database is on the B3 homepage under ‘Outputs’.