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Mexican fruit fly (Anastrepha ludens (Loew)) (Diptera: Tephritidae) represents a major threat to fruit production in the Western Hemisphere. Sterile insect technique is used to suppress and eradicate wild populations. Success of this control method necessitates weekly production of hundreds of millions of flies, their sterilization by irradiation, and their aerial release. Diet needed to produce large fly numbers are conducive to the spread of bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria were isolated from 3 rearing facilities and from multiple sources: eggs, larvae, pupae and spent diet, and were found to include some isolates identified to the genus Providencia (Enterobacteriales: Morganellaceae). We identified 41 Providencia isolates and tested their pathogenicity to A. ludens. Based on 16s rRNA sequences, 3 groups were clustered into several species of Providencia with varying capacities to affect the Mexican fruit fly production. Isolates putatively identified as P. alcalifaciens/P. rustigianii were all pathogenic causing larval and pupal yield reduction of 46–64% and 37–57%, respectively. Among them, Providencia isolate 3006 was the most pathogenic reducing larval and pupae yield by 73 and 81%, respectively. Isolates identified as P. sneebia were not pathogenic. The final cluster, P. rettgeri/P. vermicola, were variable in pathogenicity with 3 isolates yielding like the control and the rest causing larval and pupal yield reduction of 26–53% and 23–51%, respectively. Isolates putatively identified as P. alcalifaciens/P. rustigianii were more virulent than P. rettgeri/P. vermicola. Accurate identification of species is needed to diagnose and monitor pathogenic versus nonpathogenic Providencia strains.


This article is a work of the United States government. Such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law and are therefore in the public domain.

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Journal of Insect Science




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