Whiteflies, heteropterans in the family Aleyrodidae, are globally distributed and severe agricultural pests. The mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (mtCOI) sequence has been used extensively in whitefly phylogenetic comparisons and in biotype identification of the agriculturally important Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) whitefly. Because of the economic importance of several whitefly genera, and the invasive nature of the B and the Q biotypes of Bemisia tabaci, mtCOI sequence data are continually generated from sampled populations worldwide. Routine phylogenetic comparisons and biotype identification is done through amplification and sequencing of an ≈800-bp mtCOI DNA fragment. Despite its routine use, published primers for amplification of this region are often inefficient for some B. tabaci biotypes and especially across whitefly species. Through new sequence generation and comparison to available whitefly mtCOI sequence data, a set of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification primers (Btab-Uni primers) were identified that are more efficient at amplifying ≈748 bp of the ≈800-bp fragment currently used. These universal primers amplify an mtCOI fragment from numerous B. tabaci biotypes and whitefly genera by using a single amplification profile. Furthermore, mtCOI PCR primers specific for the B, Q, and New World biotypes of B. tabaci were designed that allow rapid discrimination among these biotypes. These primers produce a 478-, 405-, and 303-bp mtCOI fragment for the B, New World, and Q biotypes, respectively. By combining these primers and using rapid PCR and electrophoretic techniques, biotype determination can be made within 3 h for up to 96 samples at a time.
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