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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332693

Research Project: Systematics of Parasitic and Herbivorous Wasps of Agricultural Importance

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: Phylogenomic analysis of ants, bees and stinging wasps: Improved taxon sampling enhances understanding of hymenopteran evolution

item BRANSTETTER, MICHAEL - Smithsonian Institute
item DANFORTH, BRYAN - Cornell University
item PITTS, JAMES - Utah State University
item FAIRCLOTH, BRANT - Louisiana State University
item WARD, PHILIP - University Of California
item Buffington, Matthew
item Gates, Michael
item Kula, Robert
item BRADY, SEAN - Smithsonian Institute

Submitted to: Nature Ecology and Evolution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/2017
Publication Date: 4/3/2017
Citation: Branstetter, M., Danforth, B., Pitts, J., Faircloth, B., Ward, P., Buffington, M.L., Gates, M.W., Kula, R.R., Brady, S. 2017. Phylogenomic analysis of ants, bees and stinging wasps: Improved taxon sampling enhances understanding of hymenopteran evolution. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 27:1019-1025.

Interpretive Summary: Ants, bees, and wasps are critical for healthy ecosystem function, and include pollinators, predators, and parasites. The evolutionary relationships within this large group are critical for predicting behavior that impacts agriculture in the United States. This paper explores the use of novel genetic data for building a new family tree for the Hymenoptera. Biological control workers, extension agents, and APHIS cooperators worldwide will find this research product essential for their own work.

Technical Abstract: The importance of taxon sampling in phylogenetic accuracy is a topic of active debate. We investigated the role of taxon sampling in causing incongruent results between two recent phylogenomic studies of stinging wasps (Hymenoptera: Aculeata), a diverse lineage that includes ants, bees and the majority of eusocial insects. Using target enrichment of ultraconserved element (UCE) loci, we assembled the largest aculeate phylogenomic data set to date, sampling 854 loci from 187 taxa, including 30 out of 31 aculeate families, and a diversity of parasitoid outgroups. We analyzed the complete matrix using multiple analytical approaches, and also performed a series of taxon inclusion/exclusion experiments, in which we analyzed taxon sets identical to and slightly modified from the previous phylogenomic studies. Our results provide a highly supported phylogeny for virtually all aculeate lineages sampled, supporting ants as sister to Apoidea bees+apoid wasps), bees as sister to Philanthinae+Pemphredoninae (lineages within a paraphyletic Crabronidae), Melittidae as sister to remaining bees, and paraphyly of cuckoo wasps (Chrysidoidea). Our divergence dating analyses estimate ages for aculeate lineages in close concordance with the fossil record. Our analyses also demonstrate that outgroup choice and taxon evenness can fundamentally impact topology and clade support in phylogenomic inference.