The Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae) is a pest species with extremely high agricultural relevance. This is due to its reproductive behavior: females damage the external surface of fruits and vegetables when they lay eggs and the hatched larvae feed on their pulp. Wild C. capitata populations are traditionally controlled through insecticide spraying and/or eco-friendly approaches, the most successful being the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). The SIT relies on mass-rearing, radiation-based sterilization and field release of males that retain their capacity to mate but are not able to generate fertile progeny. The advent and the subsequent rapid development of biotechnological tools, together with the availability of the medfly genome sequence, has greatly boosted our understanding of the biology of this species. This favored the proliferation of new strategies for genome manipulation, which can be applied to population control. In this context, embryo microinjection plays a dual role in expanding the toolbox for medfly control. The ability to interfere with the function of genes that regulate key biological processes, indeed, expands our understanding of the molecular machinery underlying medfly invasiveness. Furthermore, the ability to achieve germ-line transformation facilitates the production of multiple transgenic strains that can be tested for future field applications in novel SIT settings. Indeed, genetic manipulation can be used to confer desirable traits that can, for example, be used to monitor sterile male performance in the field, or that can result in early life-stage lethality. Here we describe a method to microinject nucleic acids into medfly embryos to achieve these two main goals.
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