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Biting midges of the genus Culicoides spp.(Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) are known as the most important vectors of bluetongue (BT) in Africa. Due to severe outbreaks of BT in the years 2006 and 2007 in Germany a fast and easily applicable method for identification of domestic Culicoides spp. had to be designed. Morphological identification, e.g. by wing pattern and male or female genitalia of the midges, is not only time-consuming, it also renders impossible the identification of large numbers of midges in a short time period. A PCR-based procedure using species-specific primers would greatly simplify the identification process. The region of the internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS 1) of the ribosomal DNA has been identified as a potential target for developing species-specific primers.
UV-light-traps were installed on different farms in northern Germany throughout 2007 to catch midges of the genus Culicoides spp. In an initial step the midges were mounted on slides and morphologically classified down to their species level. Subsequently, DNA extracted from thorax and legs has been subjected to PCR using conservative ITS 1 primers. To determine relationships the resulting amplicons have been sequenced and aligned with published ITS 1 sequences retrieved from the GenBank. In a third step species-specific primers will be constructed to correctly identify domestic Culicoides spp. from northern Germany.