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Experts in identifying pest species by DNA barcoding

What bug is eating my crop (and which natural enemy should I use)?

The correct identification of pest species is a crucial step for the appropriate application of phytosanitary measures. The importance of DNA barcoding for the official diagnosis of regulated pests was recognised by the International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM nº 27) in 2006.

Identifying pests to the species level has traditionally been based on morphological analysis. However, the more non-indigenous species there are, the fewer trained taxonomists for each organismal group are to be found in control agencies. Therefore, DNA barcoding has become the method of choice for a rapid, reliable, and cost-effective identification of pest species. In the particular case of invertebrate pests, DNA barcoding can not only correctly diagnose adult specimens but identify eggs and larvae to the species level as well. This makes it a very powerful method, as proper phytosanitary measures can be applied even before the eggs hatch, so to a great extent crop damage can be prevented.

Not only can we identify pest species, but also their natural enemies. Biological control programs – which employ natural predators or parasites to suppress and regulate the population of a target pest species – are becoming more and more important in crop protection. Since most natural enemies are highly specialised, correctly identifying these species is a cornerstone of any successful biological control strategy.

Through our DNA-based service, we provide commercial growers and suppliers with an added quality assurance that certifies the identity of the species sold for biological control programs and bioefficacy assays.

Our expertise in DNA barcoding covers most plant pests and pathogens, including insects, mites, nematodes, fungi, and bacteria (click here for a complete list of species). If your target species is not in the list, please, do not hesitate to contact us and let us know what your specific testing requirements are.

What you receive

With our standard service you receive a specimen identification certificate, a summary of the methods followed, the raw electropherogram files, and your manually-edited sequences in FASTA format. If you require additional analyses, please let us know and we will do our best to meet your needs.

What we need

Your tissue samples appropriately preserved depending on the sample type (ethanol, silica gel, frozen, or another suitable preservation method). If required, we provide sampling kits and sampling collection guidelines to ensure that your samples arrive at our lab in optimal conditions.

How we work

Step 1: we isolate DNA from your samples. We have adapted different DNA isolation protocols, depending on the starting biological material.

Step 2: we amplify the genomic region of interest (the DNA barcode) using universal or in-house-developed primer pairs.

Step 3: we sequence the PCR products in both directions.

Step 4: we analyse the electropherograms obtained and compare the resulting sequences against reference databases to find the matching species.

Please contact us for further information and pricing.

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