Linking genomics and ecology to investigate the complex evolution of an invasive Drosophila pest

Lino Ometto, Alessandro Cestaro, Sukanya Ramasamy, Alberto Grassi, Santosh Revadi, Stefanos Siozios, Marco Moretto, Paolo Fontana, Claudio Varotto, Davide Pisani, Teun Dekker, Nicola Wrobel, Roberto Viola, Ilaria Pertot, Duccio Cavalieri, Mark Blaxter, Gianfranco Anfora, Omar Rota-Stabelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drosophilid fruit flies have provided science with striking cases of behavioral adaptation and genetic innovation. A recent example is the invasive pest Drosophila suzukii, which, unlike most other Drosophila, lays eggs and feeds on undamaged, ripening fruits. This not only poses a serious threat for fruit cultivation but also offers an interesting model to study evolution of behavioral innovation. We developed genome and transcriptome resources for D. suzukii. Coupling analyses of these data with field observations, we propose a hypothesis of the origin of its peculiar ecology. Using nuclear and mitochondrial phylogenetic analyses, we confirm its Asian origin and reveal a surprising sister relationship between the eugracilis and the melanogaster subgroups. Although the D. suzukii genome is comparable in size and repeat content to other Drosophila species, it has the lowest nucleotide substitution rate among the species analyzed in this study. This finding is compatible with the overwintering diapause of D. suzukii, which results in a reduced number of generations per year compared with its sister species. Genome-scale relaxed clock analyses support a late Miocene origin of D. suzukii, concomitant with paleogeological and climatic conditions that suggest an adaptation to temperate montane forests, a hypothesis confirmed by field trapping. We propose a causal link between the ecological adaptations of D. suzukii in its native habitat and its invasive success in Europe and North America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-57
Number of pages13
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • draft genome
  • genome evolution
  • population genetics
  • molecular clocks
  • Sophophora phylogeny


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