Submitted to: Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 7, 2005
Publication Date: March 15, 2006
Citation: Scheffer, S.J., Lewis, M.L., Joshi, R.C. 2006. DNA Barcoding Applied to Invasive Leafminers (Diptera: Agromyzidae) in the Philippines. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 99:204-210.
Interpretive Summary: Leafmining flies cause millions of dollars of damage to vegetable and flower crops in the U.S. and around the world. Identifying which species are present on a certain crop is difficult as the leafmining species are hard to tell apart. DNA barcoding is a method of identifying species based on the mitochondrial DNA sequence that each individual carries. We used a DNA barcoding approach to identify species involved in leafminer outbreaks on vegetables in the Philippines. We show that although DNA barcoding can provide rapid species identifications, there are some situations where DNA barcoding will either overestimate or underestimate the number of species present. This information will be of interest to scientists, systematists, pest managers, and port identifiers.
DNA barcoding involves the sequencing of a single gene region from all species in order to provide a means for identifying all of life. Although appealing to many scientists, this idea has caused considerable controversy among systematists, many of whom object to the potential circumvention of traditional taxonomic specialists and argue that the use of a single gene region for identification can be misleading. We apply a DNA barcoding approach to outbreak populations of invasive leafminer pests in the Philippines. We show in this example that although a DNA barcoding approach can in many cases provide rapid species identifications, it is likely to both overestimate and underestimate the number of species present. Only when placed within the context of considerable other data can DNA barcoding be fully interpreted and utilized. Because economically and medically important species are generally species for which many data can be collected, DNA barcoding of these species offers a powerful means for rapid identification.