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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Systematics of Flies of Agricultural and Environmental Importance

Location: Systematic Entomology

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
ARS is interested in performing research to increase and enhance understanding of the systematics of flies (Diptera) important to agriculture and the environment, especially fruit flies, leaf-mining flies, tachinid flies, soldier flies, and wheat pests and their parasitoids. We will develop new identification tools (descriptions, diagnoses, molecular markers, illustrations, keys and computer identification systems), determine the correct names of species and higher taxa, and elucidate the relationships (phylogeny) and classification of select groups of these flies, which include invasive crop pests, parasitoids of plant pests, and potential biological control agents for weeds. The objectives of our project are:.
1)Investigate the taxonomy and natural history of Central American and other New World fruit flies; analyze species concepts, develop diagnoses, descriptions, illustrations and identification keys, determine host plants, and analyze phylogenetic relationships;.
2)Conduct molecular analysis of pest leaf-mining, galling, and fruit flies, and their parasitoids, including sequencing of DNA of previously unstudied species, development of diagnostic tools, and analysis of phylogenetic relationships;.
3)Investigate taxonomy of New World tachinid flies and soldier flies; analyze species concepts, develop diagnoses, descriptions, illustrations and identification keys, and analyze phylogenetic relationships;.
4)Provide scientific identifications of plant-feeding and other agriculturally important flies, and.
5)Investigate and compile molecular characters for pests and beneficial insects within wheat and grassland habitats to document host patterns and discover possible cryptic species and host races.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
ARS will undertake research to generate morphological and molecular characters (DNA sequences) that will be used to test species concepts and hypotheses of relationship among agriculturally important flies, wheat pests, and parasitoid wasps that attack them. These data also will be used to develop new diagnostic tools (descriptions, illustrations, keys) to permit more rapid and accurate identification of these flies, wasps, and wheat pests. Databases containing scientific names, distributions, taxonomic literature, and host plant and specimen data pertaining to fruit flies will be expanded and disseminated to the user community. These and other taxonomic tools will be made accessible to the public via publications, the internet, and other electronic media. Timely and accurate identifications of flies will be provided, including those intercepted at ports-of-entry by APHIS-PPQ or submitted by a wide range of scientists and regulatory agencies, and portions of the National Collection in the National Museum of Natural History, a vital tool for research and identification, will be maintained and expanded.


3.Progress Report:
Progress on the taxonomy of Anastrepha, the largest and most economically important group of fruit flies in the American tropics, included description of 13 new species, discovery of additional new species, and further development of an electronic identification tool for the more than 250 species of this group. Study of the DNA of more than 50 species in order to discover new molecular characters useful for species discrimination and analysis of relationships was begun. New primers were designed and sequences were obtained for 5 genes. Revision of Toxotrypana, which includes a major pest of papaya, was partially completed. Data for most fruit fly species that occur in Asia and Australia were added to a host plant database for all fruit flies.

Molecular analysis of pest leaf-mining, galling, fruit flies, and their parasitoids were carried out. Taxon specific-primers for PCR amplification and DNA sequencing have been designed for both mitochondrial and nuclear genes in a variety of plant-feeding dipteran groups and their associated parasitoids. Specifically, these specialized primers have been designed for Liriomyza, Phytomyza, and other leafmining flies, Blepharoneura fruit flies, and for the braconid parasitoids attacking these groups. DNA has been extracted and sequenced from more than 1500 individual specimens during the period from October 1, 2011 to June 28, 2012. Two manuscripts reporting results from this work are currently being prepared. Data collection is continuing on these groups in order to better understand species limits, ecological interactions, and host ranges of the plant pests and their parasitoids.

Taxonomy of New World tachinid flies and soldier flies was studied. Specimens of tachinid flies of the genus Belvosia have been sorted to morphospecies and compared with types in the U.S. National Museum of Natural History and the Canadian National Collection, which contain the majority of these reference specimens. New material of Belvosia received from collaborator has been added to the research collection, sorted to morphospecies, and DNA barcoded. One new species was found in this material. Additional illustrations of male genitalia, critical for making identifications, have been completed. The specimens assembled of the soldier fly genus Paraberismyia have been reviewed and genitalia illustrations completed. The research paper on how to identify the species, and describing new species, is in preparation.

Scientific identification of agriculturally important flies were made. In the period from October 1, 2011 to June 12, 2012, 665 submittals (2,688 specimens) were identified,including more than 197 "urgent" submittals for USDA-APHIS-PPQ of specimens intercepted on perishable commodities at ports-of-entry.


4.Accomplishments
1. Identification tool for holly leaf miners. Species of holly are important ornamental plants. Some species of leaf-mining flies cause unsightly mines and blotches on these plants, reducing their value. A new tool (descriptions, identification key, illustrations) was published to allow the accurate identification of these pest flies, including four previously unknown and unnamed species.


Review Publications
Garcia, F.M., Zucchi, R.A., Norrbom, A.L. 2011. Tephritoid flies (Diptera, Tephritoidea) and their plant hosts from the state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil. Florida Entomologist. 94:151-157.

Nelson, L.A., Scheffer, S.J., Yeates, D.K. 2011. Two new species of sympatric Fergusonina flies (Diptera: Fergusoninidae) from bud galls on high elevation snow gums (Eucalyptus pauciflora Sieb. ex Spreng. complex) in the Australian Alps. Australian Journal of Entomology. 50:356-364.

Norrbom, A.L. 2011. A new species of Molynocoelia Giglio-Tos (Diptera: Tephritidae) from Ecuador. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 113:492-496.

Woodley, N.E. 2011. A world catalog of the Xylophagidae (Insecta: Diptera). Myia. 12:455-500.

Woodley, N.E. 2011. A world catalog of the Stratiomyidae (Insecta: Diptera): a supplement with revisionary notes and Errata. Myia. 12:379-415.

Lonsdale, O., Scheffer, S.J. 2011. Revision of the Nearctic holly leaf miners in the genus Phytomyza (Diptera: Agromyzidae), including descriptions of four new species. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 104(6):1183-1206.

Miller, G.L., Carmichael, A., Farvet, C., Scheffer, S.J. 2012. Room temperature DNA storage with slide-mounted Aphid specimens. Insect Conservation and Diversity. 6(3):447-451.

Nelson, L.A., Scheffer, S.J., Yeates, D.K. 2011. Three new species of Fergusonina Malloch fly (Diptera: Fergusoninidae) from bud galls on Eucalyptus L'Her. (E. baxteri (Benth.) Maiden & Blakely complex, E. dalrympleana Maiden and E. pauciflora Sieb. ex Spreng.). Australian Journal of Entomology. 3112:36-48.

Norrbom, A.L., Korytkowski, C.A. 2011. A new species of Anastrepha (Diptera: Tephritidae) from Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama. The Canadian Entomologist. 144:158-168.

Sutton, B.D., Steck, G.J., Norrbom, A.L. 2012. New species of Gymnocarena Hering (Diptera: Tephritidae) from Eastern North America and Guatemala, and the redescription of G. mississippiensis Norrbom. The Canadian Entomologist. 144:248-265.

Woodley, N.E. 2011. A Catalog of the World Xylomyidae (Insecta: Diptera). Myia. 12:417-453.

Last Modified: 7/12/2014
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