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ARS Home » Plains Area » Kerrville, Texas » Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory » LAPRU » Research » Research Project #436658

Research Project: Integrated Pest Management of Flies of Veterinary Importance

Location: Livestock Arthropod Pests Research

Project Number: 3094-32000-041-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2019
End Date: Sep 30, 2024

Objective 1: Develop more accurate models of fly dispersal by incorporation of genetics, remote sensing, and GIS into the surveillance of screwworm flies. Objective 2: Identify, develop and evaluate the efficacy of novel surveillance and control strategies, including genomic-based strategies for house, stable, horn and New World screwworm flies. • Subobjective 2A: Assess compounds for behavior modifying and insecticidal properties to control muscid flies. • Subobjective 2B: Develop and expand tools for functional genomic investigations of muscid flies for identification and validation of control targets. • Subobjective 2C: Develop germ-line transformation strains for muscid and calliphorid flies to evaluate potential for suppressing fly populations. • Subobjective 2D: Elucidate mechanisms of muscid fly insecticide resistance utilizing available genome sequence databases and develop molecular surveillance assays to monitor gene fixation and flow in natural populations. • Subobjective 2E: Develop muscid and calliphorid larval feeding bioassays to identify and characterize phagostimulant and phagoinhibitory substances. • Subobjective 2F: Assess the effect of tetracycline on the gut transcriptome and microbiome of NWS. • Subobjective 2G: Assess fly proteins selected from genomic data as potential immunogens for control of muscid flies. Objective 3: Characterize population genetics and population ecology of New World screwworms and develop approaches to mitigate range expansion and accidental introduction into new locations. • Subobjective 3A: Develop a population genetics database of screwworms from the Caribbean region. • Subobjective 3B: Isolate and identify attractants optimized for male NWS.

Muscid and calliphorid pests of livestock are of veterinary and medical importance worldwide, as they negatively impact both livestock production efficiency and human and animal health. The overall goal of this project is to diminish the impact of muscid and calliphorid pests by reducing host-pest interactions. Populations of stable, horn, and house flies have traditionally been managed by application of insecticides, but development of resistance to chemicals and a desire for more environmentally conscious approaches have shifted our research emphasis to identify more sustainable tactics. Chemical ecology, toxicology, molecular biology, and gene editing/genetic engineering methods will be employed to identify behavior modifying compounds and biological pathways regulating host orientation, larval survival, and insecticide resistance. This will enable development of mating disruption strategies and biologically-based management tools. One of the foci of this project, the New World screwworm (NWS), remains endemic to the Caribbean and South America, and a permanent barrier is maintained at the Panama-Colombia border to prevent re-introduction northward. Improved technologies to support population suppression and outbreak prevention would be beneficial to the bi-national commission that manages the permanent barrier. This project will blend geographic information system technologies with reduced genome sequencing approaches to characterize current and to model future pest distribution, as it relates to climate and landscape features. This will allow the scaling of sterile fly release rates and projections of NWS dispersal range, which are critical to maintaining the permanent barrier. Promising leads will be pursued to move towards development of applications that reduce negative impacts of these muscid and calliphorid pests.