Cotonou hosts fruit fly recognition and impact training course
IITA-Benin hosted a regional training course on “Modern Taxonomy and Identification Tools of Fruit Fly Species in Africa” in Cotonou, 23 to 27 September. The training course, jointly funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was conducted in close collaboration with the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin and the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium.
Fourteen participants from 10 different African countries—Benin, Eswatini, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—attended the training.
The course focused on the proper and accurate recognition of fruit flies and their economic impact in Africa, including morphological and molecular approaches. Unambiguous and correct identification of any pest species is considered imperative for any subsequent monitoring, suppression or eradication activities, as well as for the development of relevant research activities addressing different ecological and applied aspects. The objective of the course was, therefore, to provide the participants with basic taxonomic knowledge of the target group (tephritid fruit flies), to have hands-on experience in the use of modern taxonomy and identification tools, and to acquaint them with the most recent online and offline resources available.
The program covered areas such as theoretical modules on morphological terminology, introduction to the family of tephritid fruit flies and the most important genera and species of economic importance, fruit fly trapping and sampling methodologies, and the use of online and offline taxonomic resources and additional information sources. Other subjects included the technique of molecular identification through DNA barcoding, the importance of proper handling of reference material, including the development of associated databases and reference specimens and image collections. This was supplemented with practical sessions on the use of fruit fly identification tools, proper preservation and imaging, as well as field work (for trapping methodologies) and visits to molecular laboratory and biotaxonomic research collections of the IITA biodiversity center. In addition, lectures provided touched on more general topics such as diversity and distribution of fruit flies in Africa, biological control, and taxonomy and host-plant relationships.