William G. Gilroy | June 19, 2015
A team of biologists from the University of Notre Dame, Rice University and three other schools has discovered that an agricultural pest that began plaguing U.S. apple growers in the 1850s likely did so after undergoing extensive and genome-wide changes in a single generation.
This new result, which appears online this week in Ecology Letters, came from applying the latest tools of genome sequencing and analysis to preserved evidence from experiments carried out at Notre Dame in the 1990s. The research focuses on the fruit fly Rhagoletis pomonella, or “apple maggot,” a North American native that lays its eggs inside the fruit of the hawthorn tree. In the 1850s, a splinter group of Rhagoletis began laying eggs in apples in upstate New York, a move that required the flies to adapt the timing of their annual egg-laying cycle to match the fruiting time of their new hosts.
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