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Keywords:

  • Tabanidae;
  • COI;
  • deerfly;
  • DNA barcoding;
  • GC content;
  • haplotype;
  • horsefly;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • molecular taxonomy;
  • sequence divergence

This paper reports the first tests of the suitability of the standardized mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) barcoding system for the identification of Canadian deerflies and horseflies. Two additional mitochondrial molecular markers were used to determine whether unambiguous species recognition in tabanids can be achieved. Our 332 Canadian tabanid samples yielded 650 sequences from five genera and 42 species. Standard COI barcodes demonstrated a strong A + T bias (mean 68.1%), especially at third codon positions (mean 93.0%). Our preliminary test of this system showed that the standard COI barcode worked well for Canadian Tabanidae: the target DNA can be easily recovered from small amounts of insect tissue and aligned for all tabanid taxa. Each tabanid species possessed distinctive sets of COI haplotypes which discriminated well among species. Average conspecific Kimura two-parameter (K2P) divergence (0.49%) was 12 times lower than the average divergence within species. Both the neighbour-joining and the Bayesian methods produced trees with identical monophyletic species groups. Two species, Chrysops dawsoni Philip and Chrysops montanus Osten Sacken (Diptera: Tabanidae), showed relatively deep intraspecific sequence divergences (∼10 times the average) for all three mitochondrial gene regions analysed. We suggest provisional differentiation of Ch. montanus into two haplotypes, namely, Ch. montanus haplomorph 1 and Ch. montanus haplomorph 2, both defined by their molecular sequences and by newly discovered differences in structural features near their ocelli.