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NEW CRP: Simultaneous Application of SIT and MAT to Enhance Pest Bactrocera Management D41027

The Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis) is one of the most destructive fruit flies in the world, causing fruit damage and creating barriers to international trade

The Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera Dorsalis) is one of the most destructive fruit flies in the world, causing fruit damage and creating barriers to international trade. (Photo: J. Reyes/FAO/IAEA)

The Joint FAO/IAEA Division is launching a new five-year Coordinated Research Project (CRP) to assess the simultaneous application of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and the Male Annihilation Technique (MAT) to enhance Bactrocera fruit fly management.

The SIT, which is an environmentally friendly technique, involves the mass-rearing of male insects, sterilizing them by ionizing radiation, and releasing them into the target area in numbers large enough to outcompete their wild counterparts. Sterile male insects mating with wild female insects results in zero offspring and the release of sterile males in adequate sterile-to-wild-male over-flooding ratios suppresses the wild population in the targeted area. In certain cases, this population suppression can lead to the eventual eradication of the target population.

The male annihilation technique (MAT) has been used to suppress Bactrocera pest species as part of integrated pest management approaches, and has even been successfully applied to eradicate populations in some isolated situations, for instance on islands or during outbreaks. Integration of the MAT with the SIT has usually been implemented sequentially rather than simultaneously, with the SIT applied following a significant reduction of the wild population using the MAT. The reason for this is to avoid the mass-trapping of the released sterile males in the lured traps containing semoichemical attractants; which would significantly reduce the efficacy of the SIT.

CRP overall objectives:

The CRP objective is to explore the potentially synergistic relationship between MAT and SIT when applied simultaneously to improve the efficacy of Bactrocera fruit fly management. In addition, it will assess the effect of exposure to semiochemicals on Bactrocera.

SIT application against these pest fruit flies will include:

  • Assessment of the effect of exposure of major Bactrocera pest species to semiochemicals on earlier sexual maturation and improved male sexual performance, as well as reduced response of exposed sterile males to MAT traps;
  • Evaluation of key parameters in large field cages such as wild fly sex ratio, degree of lure response of sterile flies, wild over-flooding ratio and bisexual release to determine their influence on the effectiveness of simultaneous MAT and SIT; and
  • Field evaluation of simultaneous MAT and SIT within a pilot or operational setting that includes compatible management practices.

Specific research objectives:

The CRP will address several factors that should allow the simultaneous application of SIT and MAT to enhance Bactrocera fruit fly management: 

  • Determine the minimum amount of semiochemical required by males to reduce their lure response for a significant portion of their lifetime in the field;
  • Establish the best means to confirm that adequate semiochemical delivery has been achieved physiologically, including analysis of haemolymph, rectal gland contents, and pheromone composition;
  • Establish the best means to minimise responsiveness to traps;
  • Identify alternative semiochemicals for pre-release treatment, but recognising that the best lure for a particular fruit fly species may not be the best semiochemical for pre-release treatment;
  • Compare the mating age and behaviour of males fed semiochemicals only or in combination with other pre-release treatments (e.g., methoprene, dietary supplements);
  • Determine whether pre-release treatments of fruit flies diminish their performance, such as survival, flight, dispersal, and mating ability;
  • Determine the best means of semiochemical delivery that is compatible with existing fly emergence and release systems; and
  • Establish the relative field response of different fruit fly species to male lures using standardised protocols.

How to join the CRP:

Please submit your Proposal for Research Contract or Agreement by 31 October 2018 via email directly to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA website. For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants should write to the Research Contracts Administration Contact Point

With increasing public awareness of the negative effects of insecticides on health and the environment, alternative environmentally friendly pest control techniques such as the SIT and MAT are just one of the many ways nuclear science is used to improve quality of life. This will be among the subjects discussed at November’s IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology.


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