SITplus is a five-year, more than $45 million research and development partnership that aims to deliver an integrated pest management solution to the major horticultural pest Queensland fruit fly (Qfly). Through a strategic, coordinated and national approach using cutting-edge Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), the partnership is set to transform the way Qfly is managed in Australia.
What is Qfly?
Qfly is an endemic pest in the Australian horticultural sector, affecting the quality of the fruit and vegetables we eat and costing the sector $300 million in lost markets. Sustainable management of Qfly is vital to Australia’s $9 billion horticultural sector, which relies on domestic and international trade. Qfly can impact horticultural production in Australia in two ways – by damaging produce in the field leading to yield losses and by affecting the health status of the crops for domestic and international markets.
How does SIT work?
SIT involves the strategic release of large numbers of male fruit flies that have been sterilised. The sterile male flies are strategically released to greatly outnumber the wild male population and as a result limit the opportunity for wild females to mate with wild males. The outcome of this disruption to mating is the suppression of subsequent generations of the wild flies. SIT can be effective in dealing with incursions of Qfly, for protecting the status of pest free areas and for suppression in Qfly endemic areas where integrated pest management has been successful.
The ‘plus’ in SITplus emphasises the aim of the partnership to be about more than just breeding of sterile insects – it’s about innovative science to produce male only flies for release, thus greatly reducing production cost, and providing a framework of integrated ecological and behavioural science which can maximise the impact of sterile flies when deployed in Australia, and New Zealand (if required). Including New Zealand in this partnership is part of a proactive strategy to ensure the country remains Qfly free. SIT has already been used with great success around the world to combat a range of fruit fly species. This will be the first time that male only Qfly have been used in SIT.
What are the benefits to the horticultural sector?
SIT is a potential game changer for Australia’s horticultural industries, offering a new, environmentally friendly, sustainable and cost-effective approach to Qfly management. By using the technique, Australian growers can:
- Reduce their use of pesticides
- Expand their production of high quality crops that are free of Qfly infestation
- Benefit from increased market access opportunities.
Using SIT to combat Qfly also gives greater protection to the honey bee industry through reduced chemical impacts and increased pollination rates.
At the opening of the SITplus facility, a range of posters were presented – you can download them here:
Unwanted in New Zealand -Queensland Fruit Fly M. Suckling
Effective Area-Wide Management of the Queensland fruit fly Reynolds et al
Maximising field vigour of mass reared Qfly Lin Yeap et al
Where is the Qfly hotspot risk? Murray et al
Informing Qfly management strategies using spatially-explicit simulation modelling Schwarzmueller et al
Social barriers and facilitators for area wide management of QLD fruit fly Dr. A. Mankad, Dr. B. Loechel
Project name: SITplus
Project number: .
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This project has been funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited with co-investment from Macquarie University, CSIRO, NSW Department of Primary Industries, SARDI/PIRSA, Plant and Food Research Australia, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Agriculture Victoria) and funds from the Australian Government.
Plant and Food Research Australia
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Agriculture Victoria)