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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #430068

Research Project: Systematics of Flies of Importance in Agroecosystems and the Environment

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

2016 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. 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 fruit flies; analyze species concepts, develop diagnoses, descriptions, illustrations and identification tools, biosystematic databases, determine host plants, and analyze phylogenetic relationships; 2) Conduct molecular systematic and ecological analysis of pest leaf-mining, galling, and fruit flies, and their parasitoids, including sequencing of DNA of previously unstudied species, development of diagnostic tools, discovery of possible cryptic species and host races, and analysis of phylogenetic relationships; 3) Investigate taxonomy of tachinid flies and other higher flies; analyze species concepts, develop diagnoses, descriptions, illustrations and identification keys, and analyze phylogenetic relationships; and 4) Provide scientific identifications of plant-feeding and other agriculturally important flies.


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 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 and wasps. 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:
Taxonomy and natural history of fruit flies. Accomplishments on the taxonomy of Anastrepha, the largest and most economically important group of fruit flies in the American tropics, included publication of new molecular markers to distinguish cryptic species in the South American fruit fly complex, the description of 28 species previously unknown to science, further development of an electronic identification tool for the nearly 300 species of this group, and collection of additional samples for DNA analysis. A molecular analysis of the evolutionary relationships within Anastrepha, based on 6 DNA regions and 159 species, was completed. Additional new species were described in a group that includes pests of apple, cherries, blueberries, tomato and eggplant. Data from additional publications were added to names and host plant databases for fruit flies, and progress was made to serve this information on an APHIS-CPHST web site. This information is critical to APHIS-PPQ and other regulatory agencies to prevent the spread of pest species into the U.S. Molecular systematic and ecological analysis of pest leaf-mining, galling, and fruit flies, and their parasitoids. Primers necessary for DNA sequencing were designed for both mitochondrial and nuclear genes in a variety of plant-feeding groups of flies and their associated parasitoids. Specifically, these specialized primers have been designed for leafmining flies (Liriomyza, Phytomyza) that are pests of fruit and vegetables, fruit flies (Blepharoneura) that breed in pumpkins and relatives (Cucurbitaceae), and for braconid and other wasp parasitoids attacking these groups. Analysis of genetic variation in global samples of Liriomyza huidobrensis, a highly damaging invasive leafminer, has found that the invasive populations in Europe, Asia, and Africa have their origins in western South America. This information may be critical for designing management and control procedures around the world. Two manuscripts reporting results from this work are currently being prepared. Data collection is continuing on leafmining pests and related groups in order to better understand species limits, ecological interactions, and host ranges of the plant pests and their parasitoids. This information is critical to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Plant Protection Quarantine (APHIS-PPQ) and other regulatory agencies to prevent the spread of pest species into the U.S. Taxonomy of tachinid flies and other higher flies. The scientist responsible for this objective retired and the position is vacant. Scientific identification of agriculturally important flies. In the period from October 1, 2015 to June 10, 2016, 849 submittals (1,729 specimens) were identified, including 523 "urgent" submittals for USDA-APHIS-PPQ of specimens intercepted on perishable commodities at ports-of-entry.


4. Accomplishments
1. Developed new tools for unambiguous determination of pest fruit flies. New data were published that significantly improve identification capabilities for the largest and most economically important group of fruit flies in the Neotropics. New molecular markers were discovered to distinguish cryptic species in the South American fruit fly complex, which includes the most important pest fruit flies in Latin America. Twenty-eight species previously unknown to science, including species that attack guava and annonas, were named, described, and illustrated, and these species and additional character data were included in further development of an electronic identification tool for the nearly 300 species of this group. A molecular analysis of the evolutionary relationships within Anastrepha was completed. This work will be useful to scientists and regulatory agencies involved in management and control of pest fruit flies.


5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations:
NONE.


Review Publications
Norrbom, A.L., Rodriguez, E.J., Steck, G.J., Sutton, B.D., Nolazco Alvarado 2015. New species and host plants of Anastrepha (Diptera: Tephritidae) primarily from Peru and Bolivia. Zootaxa. 4041:1-94.

Norrbom, A.L., Savaris, M., Marinoni, L. 2016. New species of Rhagoletotrypeta (Diptera: Tephritidae) from the Dominican Republic and southern Brazil and Paraguay. Zootaxa. 4088:547-554.

Rodriguez, P., Rodriguez, E.J., Norrbom, A.L., Arevalo, E. 2016. A new species and new records of Cryptodacus (Diptera: Tephritidae) from Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. Zootaxa. 4111(3):276-290.

Sutton, B.D., Steck, G.J., Norrbom, A.L., Rodriguez, E.J., Srivastava, P., Nolazco, A., Colque, F., Yabar, L.E., Lagrava, S., Quisberth, E., Arevalo, E., Rodriguez, C., Alvarez-Baca, J.K., Guevara, Z.T., Ponce, P. 2016. Nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) variation in the Anastrepha fraterculus cryptic species complex (Diptera, Tephritidae) of the Andean region. ZooKeys. 540:175-191.

Chamorro, M.L., Persson, J., Torres, S., Keularts, J., Scheffer, S.J. 2016. Molecular and morphological tools to distinguish Scyphophorus acupunctatus Gyllenhal, 1838: a new weevil pest of the endangered Eggers Agave from St Croix, US Virgin Islands. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 118(2):218-243.

Chen, X.L., Norrbom, A.L., Friedberg, A., Chesters, D., Sajedul Islam, M., Zhu, C.D. 2015. A systematic study of Ichneumonosoma Meijere, Pelmatops Enderlein, Pseudopelmatops Shiraki and Soita Walker (Diptera: Tephritidae). Zootaxa. 4013:301-347.

Norrbom, A.L., Mcdiarmid, R., Chen, X.L., David, K.J., De Meyer, M., Freidberg, A., Han, H.Y., Hancock, D.L., Steck, G.J., Thompson, F.C., White, I.M., Zucchi, R.A. 2015. Cryptodacus Hendel, 1914 (Insecta: Diptera: TEPHRITIDAE): Proposed conservation by suppression of Cryptodacus Gundlach, 1862 (Reptilia: Serpentes: COLUBRIDAE). The Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. 72:204-208.

Papp, L., Norrbom, A.L. 2015. A review of the genus Dudaia Hedicke, 1923 (Diptera, Sphaeroceridae). Zootaxa. 4011:1-65.