Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Evolutionary Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The phylogeny of the social wasp subfamily Polistinae: evidence from microsatellite flanking sequences, mitochondrial COI sequence, and morphological characters

Elisabeth Arévalo1*, Yong Zhu2, James M Carpenter3 and Joan E Strassmann4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, Providence College, Providence, RI, 02918-0001, USA

2 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University, 60 College Street, P.O. Box 208034, New Haven, CT 06520-8034, USA

3 Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024-5192, USA

4 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, MS 170, Rice University, 6100 Main St., Houston, TX 77005-1892, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2004, 4:8  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-4-8

Published: 2 March 2004

Abstract

Background

Social wasps in the subfamily Polistinae (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) have been important in studies of the evolution of sociality, kin selection, and within colony conflicts of interest. These studies have generally been conducted within species, because a resolved phylogeny among species is lacking. We used nuclear DNA microsatellite flanking sequences, mitochondrial COI sequence, and morphological characters to generate a phylogeny for the Polistinae (Hymenoptera) using 69 species.

Results

Our phylogeny is largely concordant with previous phylogenies at higher levels, and is more resolved at the species level. Our results support the monophyly of the New World subgenera of Polistini, while the Old World subgenera are a paraphyletic group. All genera for which we had more than one exemplar were supported as monophyletic except Polybia which is not resolved, and may be paraphyletic.

Conclusion

The combination of DNA sequences from flanks of microsatellite repeats with mtCOI sequences and morphological characters proved to be useful characters establishing relationships among the different subgenera and species of the Polistini. This is the first detailed hypothesis for the species of this important group.