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
Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo
Research reveals how order first appears in liquid crystals
23.05.2018 | Brown University
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
23.05.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences