The olfactory cues used by various animals to detect and identify food items often include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by food-associated microorganisms. Microbial VOCs have potential as lures to trap animal pests, including insect crop pests. This study investigated microorganisms whose VOCs are attractive to natural populations of the spotted wing drosophila (SWD), an invasive insect pest of ripening fruits. The microorganisms readily cultured from wild SWD and SWD-infested fruits included yeasts, especially Hanseniaspora species, and various bacteria, including Proteobacteria (especially Acetobacteraceae and Enterobacteriaceae) and Actinobacteria. Traps in a raspberry planting that were baited with cultures of Hanseniaspora uvarum, H. opuntiae and the commercial lure Scentry trapped relatively high numbers of both SWD and non-target drosophilids. The VOCs associated with these baits were dominated by ethyl acetate and, for yeasts, other esters. By contrast, Gluconobacter species (Acetobacteraceae), whose VOCs were dominated by acetic acid and acetoin and lacked detectable ethyl acetate, trapped 60-75% fewer SWD but with very high selectivity for SWD. VOCs of two other taxa tested, the yeast Pichia sp. and Curtobacterium sp. (Actinobacteria), trapped very few SWD or other insects. Our demonstration of among-microbial variation in VOCs and their attractiveness to SWD and non-pest insects under field conditions provides the basis for improved design of lures for SWD management. Further research is required to establish how different microbial VOC profiles may function as reliable cues of habitat suitability for fly feeding and oviposition, and how this variation maps onto among-insect species differences in habitat preference.
Keywords: Acetobacteraceae; Attract-and-kill; Drosophila suzukii; Hanseniaspora; Microbial volatiles; Spotted wing Drosophila.