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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #325791

Research Project: Systematics of Flies of Importance in Agroecosystems and the Environment

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: Phylogenetics of host plant use in Australasian galling flies (Diptera: Fergusoninidae): Evolutionary patterns of host-shifting and gall morphology

item Scheffer, Sonja
item DAVIES, K. - University Of Adelaide
item TAYLOR, G. - University Of Adelaide
item GILBLIN DAVIS, ROBIN - University Of Florida
item THORNHILL, ANDREW - Canberra
item Lewis, Matthew
item YEATES, DAVID - Canberra
item PURCELL, MATTHEW - Australian Biological Control Laboratory, ARS
item MAKINSON, JEFF - Australian Biological Control Laboratory, ARS
item WINKLER, ISAAC - North Carolina State University

Submitted to: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/26/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Plant-feeding insects are a significant threat to both agriculture and natural resource management and cause billions of dollars in economic losses annually. This research investigated specialization and the past history of host-plant affiliations of insects feeding on melaleucas and eucalypts. Results indicate a high degree of specificity in feeding by the insects and considerable constraints in shifting from one host plant to another. This research will be of interest to forest managers, ecologists, and evolutionary biologists.

Technical Abstract: Plant-feeding insects are a hyper-diverse assemblage perhaps accounting for roughly 25% of terrestrial metazoans. Commonly, closely related phytophagous insects feed on closely related plant species. This pattern may occur through cospeciation with the plant lineage, or, by independent speciation events coupled with host switching to closely related plant species. We investigated phylogenetic relationships of Fergusonina (Diptera: Fergusoninidae)- Fergusobia (Tylenchida: Neotylinchidae) mutualists and their host plants (Myrtaceae) in order to assess the role of fergusoninid-host plant cospeciation in fergusoninid diversification. A DNA barcoding approach using COI data from 126 Fergusonina specimens from 5 gall types on 64 host plant species indicated approximately 80 fly species. Phylogenetic analysis using nuclear and mitochondrial genes revealed host genus-restricted clades but also clear evidence of multiple colonizations of both host plant genus and host species. Comparison of the Fergusonina tree topology with that from the Myrtaceae phylogeny found little evidence of concordance even within host genus-restricted clades. Molecular dating of the fly and host trees indicated that most fly diversification occurred within the past 12 my while most Myrtaceae host lineage divergences occurred prior to 10 mya. These findings add to previous reports that cospeciation of plant-feeding insects with host plants has not been the primary generator of diversity in phytophagous insects.