Fergusobia/Fergusonina-induced Shoot Bud Gall Development on Melaleuca quinquenervia


  • R. M. Giblin-Davis
  • J. Makinson
  • B. J. Center
  • K. A. Davies
  • M. Purcell
  • G. S. Taylor
  • S. J. Scheffer
  • J. Goolsby
  • T. D. Center


australia, biocontrol, diptera, fergusobia, fergusonina, fergusoninidae, fly, gall development, life history, mutualism, myrtaceae, nemata, nematode, oviposition, tylenchida


Fergusobia nematodes and Fergusonina flies are mutualists that cause a variety of gall types on myrtaceous plant buds and young leaves. The biology of an isolate of the gall complex was studied in its native range in Australia for possible use in southern Florida as a biological control agent against the invasive broad-leaved paperbark tree, Melaleuca quinquenervia. Timed studies with caged Fergusonina flies on young branches of M. quinquenervia revealed that females are synovigenic with lifetime fecundities of 183 ± 42 (standard error; SE) eggs and longevities of 17 ± 2 days. None of the male flies but all dissected female flies contained parasitic female nematodes (range = 3-15), nematode eggs (12-112), and nematode juveniles (78-1,750). Female flies deposited eggs (34 ± 6; 8-77 per bud) and nematode juveniles (114 ± 15; 44-207 per bud) into bud apices within 15 days. Histological sections of shoot buds suggested that nematodes induce the formation of hypertrophied, uninucleate plant cells prior to fly larval eclosion. Enlarged size, granular cytoplasm, and enlarged nucleus and nucleolus characterized these cells, which appeared similar to those of other species galled by nematodes in the Anguinidae. Observations of ovipositional behavior revealed that female Fergusonina sp. create diagnostic oviposition scars. The presence of these scars may facilitate recognition of host use during specificity screening.