Scientists have found that flies and moths are most closely related to beetles and more distantly related to bees and wasps, contrary to previous theory.
The findings are published in the special Honey Bee Genome issue of the journal Genome Research which coincides with Nature's publication of the honey bee genome sequence (also Thursday 26 October 2006).
The results are based on an analysis of the same 185 genes found in the genomes of eight different insect families, which together represent 45 per cent of all known animal species.
This enabled the international group of scientists to work out the evolutionary relationships between the insects based on changes and mutations within those genes.
Previously scientists had assumed that flies and moths were most closely related to bees and wasps, with beetles more distantly related to these groups.
This new family arrangement also brings the different species of social insects, such as termites and bees, closer together - suggesting that the ability of insects to cooperate in social groupings may have evolved just once, rather than independently in several different species.
“About half of all animal species belong to just four groups of insects but, surprisingly, we never knew for sure how they are related to each other,” said Dr Martin Lercher from the University of Bath, who lead the research.
“While there was never unequivocal evidence for it, scientists believed for a long time that, based on morphology, flies and moths were most closely related to bees, with beetles more distantly related to these three groups.
“By comparing genetic information from 185 genes that were sequenced in species from all of these groups, we found that in fact flies and moths are most closely related to beetles, and more distantly related to bees.
“This sheds new light on a large number of evolutionary questions, as a correct understanding of the evolutionary relationships is fundamental to any interpretation of similarities or differences among species.
“For example, social colonies are common among bees and wasps and their relatives, ants, as well as among more distantly related insects, such as termites and aphids.
“That beetles don't show this tendency, known as eusociality, has been interpreted as a sign that eusociality has evolved several times independently.
“Now that we know that bees, wasps and ants are in fact the closest relatives to the more distantly related (or ‘basal’) species, it appears more likely that the genetic basis for eusociality may have evolved only once, and was lost in the common ancestor of beetles, moths, and flies.”
The researchers used the genomes of six different insects from the holometabolous group of insects (insects which undergo complete metamorphosis): fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), mosquito (Anopheles gambiae), silk moth (Bombyx mori), flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum), honey bee (Apis mellifera) and sibling parasitic wasp species (Nasonia vitripennis and Nasonia giraulti).
These insects represent the four major orders of holometabolous insects, beetles (Coleoptera), moths (Lepidoptera), flies (Diptera) and bees and wasps (Hymenoptera), which together represent 45 per cent of the animal species on earth.
They also included one orthopteran (the grasshopper Locusta migratoria) and one hemipteran (the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum), both of which are uncontested out-groups to the holometabolous insects.
The researchers are from the University of Cologne (Germany), Baylor College of Medicine (USA), University of Rochester (USA), the Institute for Genomic Research (USA), the University of Bath (UK) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Germany).
The research was funded by the Human Frontier Science Program Organization, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Royal Society and the 21st Century Research & Technology Fund.
Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources
29.05.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)
Copper hydroxide nanoparticles provide protection against toxic oxygen radicals in cigarette smoke
29.05.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy