Ceratopogonidae are small nematoceran Diptera with a worldwide distribution, consisting of more than 5400 described species, divided into 125 genera. The genus Culicoides is known to comprise hematophagous vectors of medical and veterinary importance. Diseases transmitted by Culicoides spp. Such as African horse sickness virus, Bluetongue virus, equine encephalitis virus (Reoviridae) and Schmallenberg virus (Bunyaviridae) affect large parts of Europe and are strongly linked to the spread and abundance of its vectors. However, Culicoides surveillance measures are not implemented regularly nor in the whole of Austria. In this study, 142 morphologically identified individuals were chosen for molecular analyses (barcoding) of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene (mt COI). Molecular analyses mostly supported previous morphologic identification. Mismatches between results of molecular and morphologic analysis revealed three new Culicoides species in Austria, Culicoides gornostaevae Mirzaeva, 1984, which is a member of the Obsoletus group, C. griseidorsum Kieffer, 1918 and C. pallidicornis Kieffer, 1919 as well as possible cryptic species. We present here the first Austrian barcodes of the mt COI region of 26 Culicoides species and conclude that barcoding is a reliable tool with which to support morphologic analysis, especially with regard to the difficult to identify females of the medically and economically important genus Culicoides.
Keywords: C. gornostaevae; C. griseidorsum C. pallidicornis; biting midges; mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I; vector.