The utility of standardized DNA markers in species delineation and inference of the evolutionary history of symbiotic relationships in the Malagasy ant Melissotarsus insularis Santschi, 1911 and its scale associate (Diaspididae)




Levitsky, Ariel

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University of Guelph


A subset of 199 Melissotarsus insularis and 130 Diaspididae specimens were analyzed to 1) determine the species status of M. insularis and 2) to explore the relative intimacy of the relationship between M. insularis and Diaspididae. An analysis of molecular variance and the observed lack of association between clades and distinct habitats on the M. insularis phylogeny suggested that while M. insularis exhibits isolation by distance, it does not apparently diversify by habitat. When cryptic COI pseudogenes were accounted for, the majority of the genetic diversity exhibited by M. insularis was limited to a divergence of 3% or less suggesting that M. insularis represents a single, albeit broadly distributed, species. A cophylogenetic reconstruction of the relationship between M. insularis and Diaspididae yielded 14 “cospeciation” events but was not significant unlike reconstructions of host-parasite relationships. Analyses of reduced datasets suggested that incomplete taxon sampling may significantly affect cophylogenetic reconstruction results.



Formicidae, Melissotarsus insularis, Diaspididae, ant, scale, cophylogeny, species status, species delineation, symbiotic relationship, mutualistic relationship, COI, 12S, 28S, histone H3, CoRe-PA 0.5.1, GMYC, molecular taxonomy, biodiversity, quantifying biodiversity, natural history collections