Genetic approaches for studying myiasis-causing flies: molecular markers and mitochondrial genomics.

“Myiasis-causing flies” is a generic term that includes species from numerous dipteran families, mainly Calliphoridae and Oestridae, of which blowflies, screwworm flies and botflies are among the most important. This group of flies is characterized by the ability of their larvae to develop in animal flesh.

When the host is a live vertebrate, such parasitism by dipterous larvae is known as primary myiasis. Myiasis-causing flies can be classified as saprophagous (free-living species), facultative or obligate parasites.

Many of these flies are of great medical and veterinary importance in Brazil because of their role as key livestock insect-pests and vectors of pathogens, in addition to being considered important legal evidence in forensic entomology. The characterization of myiasis-causing flies using molecular markers to study mtDNA (by RFLP) and nuclear DNA (by RAPD and microsatellite) has been used to identify the evolutionary mechanisms responsible for specific patterns of genetic variability.

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These approaches have been successfully used to analyze the population structures of the New World screwworm fly Cochliomyia hominivorax and the botfly Dermatobia hominis. In this review, various aspects of the organization, evolution and potential applications of the mitochondrial genome of myiasis-causing flies in Brazil, and the analysis of nuclear markers in genetic studies of populations, are discussed.