Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory
Project Number: 8042-22000-292-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated
Start Date: Oct 1, 2015
End Date: Sep 30, 2020
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.
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.