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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #439501

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

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22310-001-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2025

Objective:
Objective 1: Investigate the taxonomy and natural history of plant-feeding, agriculturally important flies, especially fruit flies, leaf-mining flies, and gall midges, using morphological and genomic molecular methods to analyze species concepts, discover possible cryptic fly species and host races, develop diagnoses, descriptions, illustrations and identification tools, create biosystematic databases, determine host plants, and analyze phylogenetic relationships. [C1, PS 1A; C2, PS 2B and 2C; C3, PS 3A and 3B; C4 PS 4A and 4B] Objective 2: Curate and expand the U.S. National Diptera Collection to support agricultural research, and for use for morphological and molecular research by U.S. scientists and stakeholders worldwide. [C1, PS 1A; C2, PS 2B; C3, PS 3A and 3B; C4 PS 4A and 4B] Objective 3: Provide scientific identifications of plant-feeding and other agriculturally important flies for APHIS-PPQ and other regulatory agencies. Accurate and rapid identification relies on both development of diagnostic tools through systematic research and collection improvement. [C1, PS 1A; C2, PS 2B; C3, PS 3A and 3B; C4 PS 4A and 4B]

Approach:
This project focuses on the systematics of agriculturally important groups of flies, including pest fruit flies and leaf-mining flies. Taxonomic knowledge, including predictive, phylogenetically-based classifications, and diagnostic tools to rapidly and accurately identify these fly species are crucial to exclude and control the pests and effectively use the beneficial agents. Morphology will be investigated using traditional and new character sets to test species concepts and hypotheses of relationships among these flies, and to develop new diagnostic tools. Molecular data from mitochondrial and nuclear genes will be generated for fly identification and phylogenetics. This will include phylogenomics for assessing both deep and shallow evolutionary relationships using the anchored hybridization approach to multigene sequencing. Biosystematic data about flies will be compiled, verified and disseminated to the user community. Databases containing scientific names, distributions, taxonomic literature, and host plant and specimen data pertaining to fruit flies will be expanded and improved. These and other taxonomic tools will be made accessible to the public via publications, the Internet, and other electronic media. The U.S. National Diptera Collection will be curated and expanded to support agricultural research and to allow morphological and molecular research by U.S. and other scientists.