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DNA barcoding and host specificity of parasitoid flies (Diptera: Tachinidae) associated with Pentatomidae pests

Grant number: 20/07976-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2021
Effective date (End): June 05, 2022
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Plant Health
Principal Investigator:Alberto Soares Corrêa
Grantee:Mateus Souza Lima Aurélio
Host Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil


Biological control of pests is a big ally for agricultural sustainability since it is extremely compatible with other control strategies and has a low risk of environmental impacts and toxicological contamination of operators. The high Brazilian biodiversity makes it possible, with adequate management of the agricultural environment, that native species present in the environment efficiently exercise biological pest control. A group of insects with reports of parasitism of key agricultural pests is the parasitoid flies of the family Tachinidae (Diptera). However, information about the species diversity of Tachinidae is scarce, and when they are present, they are incomplete. The main reason is the difficult morphological identification at the specific level of Tachinidae species, which are known to have several cryptic species. It is difficult to study the parasitism behavior of these organisms that are usually described as polyphagous species. Thus, we have the objectives of (I) sequencing the first 658 bp of the Cytochrome c Oxidase Subunit I (COI) gene of the different morphotypes of Tachinidae flies found parasitizing stink bug pests of the Pentatomidae family in soybean culture; and (II) evaluating the host range (generalist or specialist) of specimens of Tachinidae (Diptera) associated with parasitism of Pentatomidae pests of soybean crops in the region of Piracicaba - SP. For this, we will collect at least three species of Pentatomidae stink bugs in soybean areas and await the emergence of parasitic flies of the Tachinidae family. After emergence, the flies will be separated into morphotypes and we will carry out the sequencing of the fragment of the COI gene, known to be used as a barcoding region for insects, in order to molecularly identify each morphotype. Using intra and interspecific genetic distance analysis and concepts of molecular phylogeny, we will define potential species of Tachinidae and infer the host range for each morphotype. In this way, this project will generate molecular identification data for the specimens of Tachinidae flies and it will be able to build guidelines for future studies of these insects for the control of stink bugs in soybean crops.(AU)

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