On the origins of medfly invasion and expansion in Australia

Mol Ecol. 2004 Dec;13(12):3845-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2004.02371.x.


As a result of their rapid expansion and large larval host range, true fruit flies are among the world's most important agricultural pest species. Among them, Ceratitis capitata has become a model organism for studies on colonization and invasion processes. The genetic aspects of the medfly invasion process have already been analysed throughout its range, with the exception of Australia. Bioinvasion into Australia is an old event: medfly were first captured in Australia in 1895, near Perth. After briefly appearing in Tasmania and the eastern states of mainland Australia, medfly had disappeared from these areas by the 1940s. Currently, they are confined to the western coastal region. South Australia seems to be protected from medfly infestations both by the presence of an inhospitable barrier separating it from the west and by the limited number of transport routes. However, numerous medfly outbreaks have occurred since 1946, mainly near Adelaide. Allele frequency data at 10 simple sequence repeat loci were used to study the genetic structure of Australian medflies, to infer the historical pattern of invasion and the origin of the recent outbreaks. The combination of phylogeographical analysis and Bayesian tests showed that colonization of Australia was a secondary colonization event from the Mediterranean basin and that Australian medflies were unlikely to be the source for the initial Hawaiian invasion. Within Australia, the Perth area acted as the core range and was the source for medfly bioinvasion in both Western and South Australia. Incipient differentiation, as a result of habitat fragmentation, was detected in some localized areas at the periphery of the core range.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Ceratitis capitata / genetics*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA Primers
  • Demography*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Geography
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Phylogeny*
  • Population Dynamics


  • DNA Primers