Specific and sensitive primers for the detection of predated olive fruit flies, Bactrocera oleae (Diptera: Tephritidae)
Bactrocera oleae, the olive fruit fly, is a major pest of olive (Olea europaea L.) trees worldwide. Its presence can cause important losses, with consequences for the economies of countries that produce and export table olives and olive oil. Efforts to control olive fruit fly populations have, however, been insufficient. Now more than ever, environmentally friendly alternatives need to be considered in potential control programs. Generalist predators could provide a way of managing this pest naturally. However, the identification of candidate predator species is essential if such a management system is to be introduced. The present paper describes a set of species-specific primers for detecting the presence of B. oleae DNA in the gut of predatory arthropods. All primers were tested for checking cross-reactive amplification of other fruit fly DNA and evaluated in heterospecific mixes of nucleic acids. All were found to be very sensitive for B. oleae. Subsequent feeding trials were conducted using one of the most abundant species of ground dwelling carabids in olive groves in south-eastern Madrid, Spain. These trials allowed determining that 253F-334R and 334F-253R primer pairs had the highest detection efficiency with an ID50 of around 78 h. These primers therefore provide a very useful tool for screening the gut contents of potential predators of B. oleae, and can thus reveal candidate species for the pest's biological control
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