Evolutionary history of the Hymenoptera

Ralph S. Peters*, Lars Krogmann, Christoph Mayer, Alexander Donath, Simon Gunkel, Karen Meusemann, Alexey Kozlov, Lars Podsiadlowski, Malte Petersen, Robert Lanfear, Patricia A. Diez, John Heraty, Karl M. Kjer, Seraina Klopfstein, Rudolf Meier, Carlo Polidori, Thomas Schmitt, Shanlin Liu, Xin Zhou, Torsten WapplerJes Rust, Bernhard Misof, Oliver Niehuis

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    376 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, ants, and bees) are one of four mega-diverse insect orders, comprising more than 153,000 described and possibly up to one million undescribed extant species [1, 2]. As parasitoids, predators, and pollinators, Hymenoptera play a fundamental role in virtually all terrestrial ecosystems and are of substantial economic importance [1, 3]. To understand the diversification and key evolutionary transitions of Hymenoptera, most notably from phytophagy to parasitoidism and predation (and vice versa) and from solitary to eusocial life, we inferred the phylogeny and divergence times of all major lineages of Hymenoptera by analyzing 3,256 protein-coding genes in 173 insect species. Our analyses suggest that extant Hymenoptera started to diversify around 281 million years ago (mya). The primarily ectophytophagous sawflies are found to be monophyletic. The species-rich lineages of parasitoid wasps constitute a monophyletic group as well. The little-known, species-poor Trigonaloidea are identified as the sister group of the stinging wasps (Aculeata). Finally, we located the evolutionary root of bees within the apoid wasp family “Crabronidae.” Our results reveal that the extant sawfly diversity is largely the result of a previously unrecognized major radiation of phytophagous Hymenoptera that did not lead to wood-dwelling and parasitoidism. They also confirm that all primarily parasitoid wasps are descendants of a single endophytic parasitoid ancestor that lived around 247 mya. Our findings provide the basis for a natural classification of Hymenoptera and allow for future comparative analyses of Hymenoptera, including their genomes, morphology, venoms, and parasitoid and eusocial life styles.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1013-1018
    Number of pages6
    JournalCurrent Biology
    Volume27
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2017

    Keywords

    • evolution
    • herbivory
    • Hymenoptera
    • life history
    • molecular dating
    • parasitoidism
    • phylogenomics
    • phylogeny
    • RNA-seq
    • transcriptomes

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