Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Entomology and Plant Pathology

Major Professor

John K. Moulton

Committee Members

Ernest C. Bernard, Karen M. Vail


SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/johnmoulton/Desktop/SenatoreGailMay2012.docA molecular approach was taken to differentiate morphologically homogeneous species within the Simulium jenningsi species group (SJG). This group of Nearctic black flies consisting of 22 recognized species has its highest diversity in the southeastern United States. No other group of black flies in this region is more ubiquitous or pestiferous. Female black flies in this group are nearly isomorphic, which complicates identification, elucidation of host specificity and pest status, and directed control of through application of Bti in the appropriate natal streams. Among SJG species, only S. luggeri Nicholson & Mickel, S. jenningsi Malloch, and S. penobscotense Snoddy & Bauer have well documented medical and veterinary importance. However, in the Deep South these three species are uncommon or not present (penobscotense), so other group species must be to blame for causing human discomfort. The objective of this study was to use sequences from the nuclear gene speckle (IKappaB kinase complex) for identification of and phylogenetic resolution among SJG species. The ultimate application of the fruits of this project is enabling the identification of pest females. Several positively identified individuals (mostly pupae) of each species were used as standards against which unknowns can eventually be compared. Parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses were conducted. The data obtained permitted identification of all morphospecies except S. nyssa Stone & Snoddy, S. infenestrum Moulton & Adler, and S. penobscotense. It could not resolve relationships within the fibrinflatum (fibrinflatum Twinn, notiale Stone & Snoddy, snowi Stone & Snoddy, and underhilli Stone & Snoddy) and taxodium (taxodium Snoddy, lakei Snoddy, chlorum Moulton & Adler, confusum Moulton & Adler) complexes. A large degree of polymorphism was observed within several species, possibly indicative of introgression or highly polymorphic antecedent species.

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