Molecular Taxonomic Identification of the Oriental Fruit Fly (Bactrocera dorsalis) and the Melon Fly (Bactrocera cucurbitae): How Similar Are They at the DNA Level?

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2015-05
Authors
Freitas, Uyen
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Abstract
Two species of fruit flies inflict massive amounts of agricultural damage throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including Hawaii. These are the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, and the melon fly, Bactrocera cucurbitae. Many programs use chemical insecticides to control and eliminate the damage caused by these species, but biologically based methods are considered desirable alternatives. The first requirement of any of the biological methods is to make accurate and reliable species identifications. Unfortunately, in many cases, these species can be difficult to properly identify when traditional methods relying on morphological characters are used. The traditional methods depend almost entirely on the use of adult characters, but many specimens are captured at pre-adult stages that are difficult or impossible to identify at the species level using this approach. Fortunately, taxonomic methods based on the use of DNA characters, known as molecular taxonomy, have several advantages for identification of species, even for those found within closely related groupings known as species complexes. This method uses specific genetic markers found in an organism's DNA to identify it and characterize it as belonging to a particular species. One of the markers most commonly used for this purpose is the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene from the mitochondrial DNA. This project proposes to use molecular taxonomic methods using data from the COI gene to show the extent to which specimens of Bactrocera dorsalis can be discriminated from Bactrocera cucurbitae using DNA level markers. This will augment the use biologically based control measures, allow for more robust agricultural development, and create a stronger foundation for more sustainable farming in Hawaii as well as in other parts of the world. Another major goal of this project is collect and analyze specimens from these two species of fruit flies from Vietnam. Although these flies are known to occur throughout Southeast Asia, to date there have been no reports analyzing the genetic makeup of populations in Vietnam.
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Bactrocera dorsalis, Bactrocera cucurbitae, molecular taxonomy, haplotype, mitochondrial DNA, sequencing.
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54 pages
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