The Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) is a destructive agricultural pest and the subject of exclusion efforts in many countries. Suppression and eradication of invasive populations to prevent establishment is facilitated by the release of sterile males using the sterile insect technique (SIT). In active SIT release areas, it is critical to accurately discriminate between released sterile males and wild-caught individuals to be able to detect extremely rare invasive individuals in areas inundated with millions of sterile male flies. Current methods for discrimination exist, but are not always definitive, and a more reliable method is necessary. To address this, we took a novel approach and developed a genotyping assay that is linked to traits that facilitate male-only releases and are maintained in the SIT colonies, white pupae (wp) and temperature sensitive lethal (tsl). The development of this assay was achieved through linkage mapping and QTL mapping of wp in a mapping population derived from SIT colony flies and wild-type colony flies. This new method to discriminate released SIT flies from wild individuals was demonstrated across SIT colonies and wild individuals from across the geographic range of this species. In addition, linkage and QTL mapping of wp in C. capitata has larger impacts as it can serve as a foundational tool to identify the genetic basis of traits that facilitate the separation of male from female flies which can be used to develop SIT programs in related species.
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