Rapid, accurate, and timely identification of insects as a group is important and challenging worldwide, as they outnumber all other animals in number and diversity. DNA barcoding is a method for the identification of species in a wide range of animal taxa, which uses the 5′ region of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase-I (CO-I). Yet another easy, accurate, and economical method of species discrimination is by developing species-specific markers, which produce specific amplicon for the species in question. The method is handy because it is not limited by life stages, sex, polymorphism, and other factors. Herein, we measured the usefulness of CO-I for the species discrimination of mirids in India viz. Helopeltis antonii Signoret, H. thievora Waterhouse, H. bradyi Waterhouse, and Pachypeltis maesarum Kirkaldy in their various life stages. Furthermore, our study showed the utility of species-specific markers in differentiating H. antonii (295) and H. bradyi (514) regardless of their life stages. Analysis of CO-I gene revealed <1% intraspecific divergence for all four species examined, whereas the interspecific distances ranged from 7 to 13%. This study showed that the DNA barcode and species-specific markers will aid the identification of mirids in India and will stand as a decisive tool in formulating integrated pest management (IPM) strategy, quick identification of invasive and cryptic species, haplotypes, biotypes, and other factors, if any.
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Vol. 41 • No. 5