Differential Susceptibility of Wild and Cultivated Blueberries to an Invasive Frugivorous Pest

Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, Kevin R. Cloonan, Fernando Sanchez-Pedraza, Yucheng Zhou, M. Monica Giusti, Betty Benrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Highbush blueberry is a crop native to the northeast USA that has been domesticated for about 100 years. This study compared the susceptibility of wild and domesticated/cultivated highbush blueberries to an invasive frugivorous pest, the spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). We hypothesized that: 1) cultivated fruits are preferred by D. suzukii for oviposition and better hosts for its offspring than wild fruits; and, 2) wild and cultivated fruits differ in physico-chemical traits. Fruits from wild and cultivated blueberries were collected from June through August of 2015 and 2016 from 10 to 12 sites in New Jersey (USA); with each site having wild and cultivated blueberries growing in close proximity. The preference and performance of D. suzukii on wild and cultivated blueberries were studied in choice and no-choice bioassays. In addition, we compared size, firmness, acidity (pH), total soluble solids (°Brix), and nutrient, phenolic, and anthocyanin content between wild and cultivated berries. In choice and no-choice bioassays, more eggs were oviposited in, and more flies emerged from, cultivated than wild blueberries. Cultivated fruits were 2x bigger, 47% firmer, 14% less acidic, and had lower °Brix, phenolic, and anthocyanin amounts per mass than wild fruits. Levels of potassium and boron were higher in cultivated fruits, while calcium, magnesium, and copper were higher in wild fruits. These results show that domestication and/or agronomic practices have made blueberries more susceptible to D. suzukii, which was associated with several physico-chemical changes in fruits. Our study documents the positive effects of crop domestication/cultivation on an invasive insect pest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-297
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


  • Drosophila suzukii
  • Fruit chemistry
  • Highbush blueberry
  • Physical attributes
  • Preference-performance
  • Spotted wing drosophila
  • Vaccinium corymbosum


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