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Publications (2)14.72 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The phylogeny of insects, one of the most spectacular radiations of life on earth, has received considerable attention. However, the evolutionary roots of one intriguing group of insects, the twisted-wing parasites (Strepsiptera), remain unclear despite centuries of study and debate. Strepsiptera exhibit exceptional larval developmental features, consistent with a predicted step from direct (hemimetabolous) larval development to complete metamorphosis that could have set the stage for the spectacular radiation of metamorphic (holometabolous) insects. Here we report the sequencing of a Strepsiptera genome and show that the analysis of sequence-based genomic data (comprising more than 18 million nucleotides from nearly 4,500 genes obtained from a total of 13 insect genomes), along with genomic metacharacters, clarifies the phylogenetic origin of Strepsiptera and sheds light on the evolution of holometabolous insect development. Our results provide overwhelming support for Strepsiptera as the closest living relatives of beetles (Coleoptera). They demonstrate that the larval developmental features of Strepsiptera, reminiscent of those of hemimetabolous insects, are the result of convergence. Our analyses solve the long-standing enigma of the evolutionary roots of Strepsiptera and reveal that the holometabolous mode of insect development is more malleable than previously thought.
    Current biology: CB 06/2012; 22(14):1309-13. · 10.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Published nucleotide sequence data from the mega-diverse insect order Hymenoptera (sawflies, bees, wasps, and ants) are taxonomically scattered and still inadequate for reconstructing a well-supported phylogenetic tree for the order. The analysis of comprehensive multiple gene data sets obtained via targeted PCR could provide a cost-effective solution to this problem. However, oligonucleotide primers for PCR amplification of nuclear genes across a wide range of hymenopteran species are still scarce. Here we present a suite of degenerate oligonucleotide primer pairs for PCR amplification of 154 single-copy nuclear protein-coding genes from Hymenoptera. These primers were inferred from genome sequence data from nine Hymenoptera (seven species of ants, the honeybee, and the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis). We empirically tested a randomly chosen subset of these primer pairs for amplifying target genes from six Hymenoptera, representing the families Chrysididae, Crabronidae, Gasteruptiidae, Leucospidae, Pompilidae, and Stephanidae. Based on our results, we estimate that these primers are suitable for studying a large number of nuclear genes across a wide range of apocritan Hymenoptera (i.e., all hymenopterans with a wasp-waist) and of aculeate Hymenoptera in particular (i.e., apocritan wasps with stingers). The amplified nucleotide sequences are (a) with high probability from single-copy genes, (b) easily generated at low financial costs, especially when compared to phylogenomic approaches, (c) easily sequenced by means of an additionally provided set of sequencing primers, and (d) suitable to address a wide range of phylogenetic questions and to aid rapid species identification via barcoding, as many amplicons contain both exonic and fast-evolving intronic nucleotides.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(6):e39826. · 3.73 Impact Factor