Systematics of Flies of Agricultural and Environmental Importance
Project Number: 8042-22000-262-00
Start Date: Oct 01, 2010
End Date: Sep 30, 2015
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, soldier flies, and wheat pests and their parasitoids. 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 Central American and other New World fruit flies; analyze species concepts, develop diagnoses, descriptions, illustrations and identification keys, determine host plants, and analyze phylogenetic relationships; 2) Conduct molecular analysis of pest leaf-mining, galling, and fruit flies, and their parasitoids, including sequencing of DNA of previously unstudied species, development of diagnostic tools, and analysis of phylogenetic relationships; 3) Investigate taxonomy of New World tachinid flies and soldier flies; analyze species concepts, develop diagnoses, descriptions, illustrations and identification keys, and analyze phylogenetic relationships; 4) Provide scientific identifications of plant-feeding and other agriculturally important flies, and 5) Investigate and compile molecular characters for pests and beneficial insects within wheat and grassland habitats to document host patterns and discover possible cryptic species and host races.
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, wheat pests, 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, wasps, and wheat pests. 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.