Diagnostic tool for rapid pest identification


2015 to 2017


The goal is to integrate Next Generation DNA sequencing with studies of physiology, morphology, and behavior, to develop simple, but conclusive genetic diagnostic tests to identify cryptic pest insects of economic importance, while also understanding the implications of hybridization with other closely realated non-pest insects. As a test case, we will focus on the apple maggot fly, Rhagoletis pomonella, the major quarantine pest threatening the multi-billion dollar apple industry in the Pacific Northwest. Stakeholders face a serious problem distinguishing R. pomonella from the morphologically similar and abundant R. zephyria that attacks non-commercial snowberries. Misidentification of R. zephyria triggers expensive and unnecessary quarantine measures at great cost to growers. The integrated genomic strategy we perfect for R. pomonella will be transferable to potentially any pest organism in the future, a process we will facilitate by disseminating our methods and protocols widely to the community through papers, talks, lab websites, and partnership with iPlant, a collaborative research group that develops cyberinfrastructure for agriculture.


Threat to apple export from Washington State. There is a zero tolerance for the maggot in apples for export, which is the major market for the west coast growing areas. Loss of the export market could affect a large region of the western U. S.


The project was just recently funded

Submitted by: 

  • Linn, Charles E

Researchers involved: 

  • Linn, Charles
  • Feder, Jeff

Organizations involved: 

  • Notre Dame University

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • Washington