A real-time PCR toolbox for accurate identification of invasive fruit fly species.
Significant plant pests such as fruit flies that travel with fresh produce between countries as eggs or larvae pose a great economic threat to the agriculture and fruit industry worldwide. Time-limited and expensive quarantine decisions require accurate identification of such pests. Immature stages are often impossible to identify, making them a serious concern for biosecurity agencies. Use of COI barcoding PCR, often the only molecular identification resource, is time-consuming. We assess the suitability of the COI barcoding region for real-time PCR assays to identify four pest fruit fly species (Family: Tephritidae), in a diagnostic framework. These species, namely Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata), Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni), African invader fly (Bactrocera invadens) and Island fly (Dirioxa pornia) each provide a different set of genetic species delimitation problems. We discuss the benefits and limitations of using a single-gene TaqManTM real-time approach for such species. Our results indicate that COI-based TaqManTM real-time PCR assays, in particular for genetically distinct species, provide an accurate, sensitive and rapid diagnostic tool.