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      Phylogenomic Insights into the Evolution of Stinging Wasps and the Origins of Ants and Bees

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          Abstract

          The stinging wasps (Hymenoptera: Aculeata) are an extremely diverse lineage of hymenopteran insects, encompassing over 70,000 described species and a diversity of life history traits, including ectoparasitism, cleptoparasitism, predation, pollen feeding (bees [Anthophila] and Masarinae), and eusociality (social vespid wasps, ants, and some bees) [1]. The most well-studied lineages of Aculeata are the ants, which are ecologically dominant in most terrestrial ecosystems [2], and the bees, the most important lineage of angiosperm-pollinating insects [3]. Establishing the phylogenetic affinities of ants and bees helps us understand and reconstruct patterns of social evolution as well as fully appreciate the biological implications of the switch from carnivory to pollen feeding (pollenivory). Despite recent advancements in aculeate phylogeny [4-11], considerable uncertainty remains regarding higher-level relationships within Aculeata, including the phylogenetic affinities of ants and bees [5-7]. We used ultraconserved element (UCE) phylogenomics [7, 12] to resolve relationships among stinging-wasp families, gathering sequence data from >800 UCE loci and 187 samples, including 30 out of 31 aculeate families. We analyzed the 187-taxon dataset using multiple analytical approaches, and we evaluated several alternative taxon sets. We also tested alternative hypotheses for the phylogenetic positions of ants and bees. Our results present a highly supported phylogeny of the stinging wasps. Most importantly, we find unequivocal evidence that ants are the sister group to bees+apoid wasps (Apoidea) and that bees are nested within a paraphyletic Crabronidae. We also demonstrate that taxon choice can fundamentally impact tree topology and clade support in phylogenomic inference.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Current Biology
          Current Biology
          Elsevier BV
          09609822
          April 2017
          April 2017
          : 27
          : 7
          : 1019-1025
          Article
          10.1016/j.cub.2017.03.027
          28376325
          © 2017

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