Molecular diagnostics of economically important Ceratitis fruit fly species (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Africa using PCR and RFLP analyses.
The predominantly Afrotropical fruit fly genus Ceratitis contains many species of agricultural importance. Consequently, quarantine of Ceratitis species is a major concern for governmental regulatory agencies. Although diagnostic keys exist for identification of all described Ceratitis species, these tools are based on adult characters. Flies intercepted at ports of entry are usually immatures, and Ceratitis species cannot be diagnosed based on larval morphology. To facilitate identification of Ceratitis pests at ports of entry, this study explores the utility of DNA-based diagnostic tools for a select group of Ceratitis species and related tephritids, some of which infest agriculturally important crops in Africa. The application of the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method to analyse three mitochondrial genes (12S ribosomal RNA, 16S ribosomal RNA, and NADH-dehydrogenase subunit 6) is sufficient to diagnose 25 species and two species clusters. PCR analysis of the internal transcribed spacer region 1 (ITS-1) is able to distinguish three of the five species left unresolved by mitochondrial DNA analysis.