In areas infested with pest species such as the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), many programs rely heavily on the sterile insect technique (SIT) as a form of biological control. However, when SIT treatments are used both for control of established infestations and for occasional outbreaks, for several reasons, programs are often unable to adequately quantify the success of this approach. Chief among these are difficulties associated with reliably and rapidly determining the strain of origin of males recaptured during and after the SIT program. In this study, we describe the use of a DNA-based marker that can be used to rapidly and reliably distinguish males originating from the two sterile strains that are most widely used in SIT rearing facilities from males originating from wild strains of various regions of the world. This method uses polymerase chain reaction amplification of material from individual specimens to directly analyze DNA sequence variants found within a portion of the mitochondrial ND4 subunit 4 (ND4) gene to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are diagnostic of different strains. Specifically, the SNPs described here reliably distinguish individual flies originating from the Vienna 7 and Vienna 8 strains used for sterile release from wild flies infesting various areas including Western Australia, Guatemala, and Hawaii. The availability of such markers for determination of the strain of origin of specimens, either from whole specimens or body parts (including their sperm), has great potential to improve the ability to monitor and quantify the success of any sterile release program.
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