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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #394651

Research Project: Systematics of Beetles, Flies, Moths and Wasps with an Emphasis on Agricultural Pests, Invasive Species, Biological Control Agents, and Food Security

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: Key innovations and the diversification of Hymenoptera

item BLAIMER, BONNER - North Carolina State University
item SANTOS, B. - Federal University Of Parana Polytechnic Center
item Gates, Michael
item Kula, Robert
item MIKO, I. - North Carolina State University
item RASPLUS, J.-Y. - French National Institute For Agricultural Research
item SMITH, D. - Retired ARS Employee
item TALAMAS, E.T - Florida State University
item BRADY, SEAN - Smithsonian Institute
item Buffington, Matthew

Submitted to: Nature
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/23/2023
Publication Date: 3/3/2023
Citation: Blaimer, B., Santos, B., Gates, M.W., Kula, R.R., Miko, I., Rasplus, J., Smith, D.R., Talamas, E., Brady, S., Buffington, M.L. 2023. Key innovations and the diversification of Hymenoptera. Nature. 14:Article e1212.

Interpretive Summary: The order Hymenoptera, composed of the ants, bees, wasps, hornets and sawflies, is regarded as the single largest radiation of terrestrial life. How was this order shaped? What is its evolutionary history? We addressed these age old questions with state of the art genomic resources, representing 750 species across the order, a dataset so large, supercomptuers were needed to analyse it. The result is a picture of Hymenoptera evolution hitherto unknown, revealing parasitic species dominated the earth for 100 million years, and reversion to plant feeding happend numerous times, yielding explosive speciation rates. Entomologists and evolutionary biologists, worldwide, will use the data and interpretations presented here.

Technical Abstract: The order Hymenoptera (wasps, ants, sawflies, and bees) represents one of the most diverse animal lineages, but whether specific key innovations have contributed to its diversification is still unknown. We assembled the largest time-calibrated phylogeny of Hymenoptera to date and investigated the origin and possible correlation of particular morphological and behavioral innovations with diversification in the order: the wasp waist of Apocrita; the stinger of Aculeata; parasitoidism, a specialized form of carnivory; and secondary phytophagy, a reversal to plant-feeding. Here, we show that parasitoidism has been the dominant strategy since the Late Triassic in Hymenoptera, but was not an immediate driver of diversification. Instead, transitions to secondary phytophagy (from parasitoidism) had a major influence on diversification rate in Hymenoptera. Support for the stinger and the wasp waist as key innovations remains equivocal, but these traits may have laid the anatomical and behavioral foundations for adaptations more directly associated with diversification.