DNA Metabarcoding Enables High-Throughput Detection of Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) Within Unsorted Trap Catches
journal contributionposted on 04.05.2022, 06:27 by Alexander PiperAlexander Piper, John CunninghamJohn Cunningham, Noel CoganNoel Cogan, Mark J Blacket
The spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii, Matsumara) is a rapidly spreading global pest of soft and stone fruit production. Due to the similarity of many of its life stages to other cosmopolitan drosophilids, surveillance for this pest is currently bottlenecked by the laborious sorting and morphological identification of large mixed trap catches. DNA metabarcoding presents an alternative high-throughput sequencing (HTS) approach for multi-species identification, which may lend itself ideally to rapid and scalable diagnostics of D. suzukii within unsorted trap samples. In this study, we compared the qualitative (identification accuracy) and quantitative (bias toward each species) performance of four metabarcoding primer pairs on D. suzukii and its close relatives. We then determined the sensitivity of a non-destructive metabarcoding assay (i.e., which retains intact specimens) by spiking whole specimens of target species into mock communities of increasing specimen number, as well as 29 field-sampled communities from a cherry and a stone fruit orchard. Metabarcoding successfully detected D. suzukii and its close relatives Drosophila subpulchrella and Drosophila biarmipes in the spiked communities with an accuracy of 96, 100, and 100% respectively, and identified a further 57 non-target arthropods collected as bycatch by D. suzukii surveillance methods in a field scenario. While the non-destructive DNA extraction retained intact voucher specimens, dropouts of single species and entire technical replicates suggests that these protocols behave more similarly to environmental DNA than homogenized tissue metabarcoding and may require increased technical replication to reliably detect low-abundance taxa. Adoption of high-throughput metabarcoding assays for screening bulk trap samples could enable a substantial increase in the geographic scale and intensity of D. suzukii surveillance, and thus likelihood of detecting a new introduction. Trap designs and surveillance protocols will, however, need to be optimized to adequately preserve specimen DNA for molecular identification.