Fellowship for Kristie Schmidt: Exploring Microbiome Diversity Analysis for Estimating the Geographic Origin of an Invasive Pest

Grants and Contracts Details


Climate change and increased global trade places the US at risk for the establishment of invasive pests. Establishment of invasive pest species in the continental US, such as pestiferous fruit flies within the family Tephritidae, would have serious impacts to the production and exportation of fruit and vegetable produce. Phytosanitary management strategies rely on accurate geographic origin estimation of intercepted pests to react to and prevent future incursions. Current diagnostic tools, such as mitochondrial DNA barcoding, are ineffective at estimating geographic origin for many tephritid species, including the Anastrepha fraterculus complex (Afrat-complex), which is a major pest of citrus fruits. Therefore, in the proposed project, I will develop novel methods for estimating the geographic origin of intercepted Afrat-complex individuals by characterizing the microbiome diversity across this group. My objectives are to 1) assess the microbiome of the Afrat-complex including the bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia, 2) identify possible correlations between geographic origin and the strain of Wolbachia a specimen is infected with, and 3) develop a bioinformatic workshop for our collaborators in Brazil. The proposed research will provide value-added innovation to current diagnostic tools used for geographic origin estimation of intercepted pests in alignment with the AFRI Priority Area 1 promote plant health and production and plant products and USDA Strategic Goal 3 promote American Agricultural Products and Exports. Additionally, by collaborating with our international research partners, we are promoting Global Engagement, which is vital between the US and Brazil, a country where the Afrat-complex is currently established.
Effective start/end date6/1/235/31/26


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $180,000.00


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