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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #438797

Research Project: Systematics of Beetles (Coleoptera) in Support of U.S. Agriculture, Arboriculture, and Biological Control of Pests

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-312-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 29, 2020
End Date: Dec 13, 2021

Objective 1: Develop new and improve existing classifications of agriculturally important beetles based on next-generation sequencing (e.g., in cooperation with the Ag100Pests Initiative), comparative morphological and bioinformatics analyses, and modern illustration methods. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A and 3B; C4 PS4A and 4B – Appendix 1] Sub-objective 1.A: Phylogenomic estimate of the leaf beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) phylogeny with particular emphasis on flea beetles (Chrysomelidae: Galerucinae: Alticini). Sub-objective 1.B: Infer the first phylogenomic hypothesis and revise the generic-level classification of Cossoninae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Objective 2: Generate morphological and molecular diagnostic tools that will allow stakeholders and beneficiaries (e.g. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Department of Homeland Security, state departments of agriculture, foreign and domestic biological control laboratories, researchers, and citizens worldwide) to accurately identify and rank agriculturally important beetles. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A; C4 PS4A and 4B] Sub-objective 2.A: Interactive guide for flea beetle genera of the West Indies. Sub-objective 2.B: Generic reassessment and Illustrated key to Nearctic Baridinae. Objective 3: Curate and expand the U. S. National Beetle Collection to support morphological and molecular research by U.S. scientists and stakeholders worldwide and enhance pest insect diagnostics. [NP304, C3, PS3A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A; C4 PS4A and 4B] Sub-objective 3.A: Curation of the National Leaf Beetle collection. Sub-objective 3.B: Curation of the National Curculionoidea Collection. Objective 4: Provide identifications of beetles, including plant-feeders, wood-borers, and others of agricultural, economic and environmental importance. [NP304, C3, PS3A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A; C4 PS4A and 4B]

To achieve objectives outlined in the plan, beetle taxon sampling will be centered around testing each hypothesis, while making every attempt to include multiple representatives of each rank to recognize the potential phylogenetic effects of contamination and systematic biases. For Chrysomelidae, the largest and most geographically inclusive taxon sample of about 600 genera across all major groups will be assembled. Cossonines from all over the world, including from recent expeditions have been accumulated. For both beetle groups field expeditions to collect missing taxa are planned to Africa, Australia, Central and South America. Variety of techniques and methods will be used for estimating phylogenies: Qiagen DNeasy Blood and Tissue Kit for DNA extraction; PHYLUCE pipeline to increase the success of hybrid capture experiments; PartitionFinder v2 - to determine the best-fit models of evolution and partition scheme according to the Bayesian Information Criterion, ASTRAL-III v5.1.1 with the set of ML gene trees, will be used to estimate the species phylogenies and, finally, as each of our hypotheses is largely taxonomic in scope; we will use our molecular data and estimated gene and species phylogenies to statistically test proposed molecular hypotheses against all other phylogenetic hypotheses that have been published for each focal lineage using the gene genealogical interrogation test (GGI). Taxon sampling for revisionary objectives of the plan are based on the taxonomic literature, museum records, available databases, and include specimens housed at the National Beetle collection (USNM), museum holdings around the world and include field work to fill the gaps in overall sample. Type species of each genus will be the focus to determine “generic level” morphological characters. Specimens will be examined for morphological features using light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and phase contrast compound microscopy. Finally, morphological data will be used to produce identification tools such as guides, keys, comparative descriptions, and diagnoses. Computerized, interactive identification tools on beetle taxa, developed with the assistance of computer programs such as DELTA and LucID, will be created and disseminated via the Internet. National Beetle collection is maintained and enhanced in accordance with the USNM Collections Management Procedures through field work, donated collections and specimens kept from identifications, which are mounted, labelled or otherwise processed, accessioned, databased, and incorporated into the main collection, both “dry” and DNA grade. Identification of beetles submitted by APHIS-PPQ, research and regulatory organizations in the U.S. and abroad is performed using variety of tools available at the USNM, main of which is the National Beetle collection. Identifications are reported using the SEL Identification System (SELIS) and APHIS-PPQ ARM on a daily basis as specimens are intercepted and identified. The information is tracked for decades, which provides critical data for taxonomic research programs in areas such as predictive distribution models for invasive species.