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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Ecol. Evol. | doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00345

Old World and New World Phasmatodea: Phylogenomics Resolve the Evolutionary History of Stick and Leaf Insects

 Sabrina Simon1,  Harald Letsch2,  Sarah Bank3, Thomas Buckley4, 5,  Alexander Donath6, Shanlin Liu7,  Ryuichiro Machida8,  Karen Meusemann6, 9, Bernhad Misof6, Lars Podsiadlowski6,  Xin Zhuo10, 11,  Benjamin Wipfler12 and  Sven Bradler13*
  • 1Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands
  • 2University of Vienna, Austria
  • 3Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach-Institut für Zoologie und Anthropologie, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany
  • 4Landcare Research New Zealand, New Zealand
  • 5The University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • 6Centre for Molecular Biodiversity Research, Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, Germany
  • 7Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Biomedical Engineering, Beihang University, China
  • 8Sugadaira Research Station, Mountain Science Center, University of Tsukuba, Japan
  • 9University of Freiburg, Germany
  • 10Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Food Nutrition and Human Health, Beijing Engineering and Technology Research Center of Food Additives, Beijing Technology and Business University, China
  • 11China Agricultural University (CAU), China
  • 12Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (LG), Germany
  • 13University of Göttingen, Germany

Phasmatodea comprises over 3,000 extant species and stands out as one of the last remaining insect orders for which a robust, higher-level phylogenetic hypothesis is lacking. New research suggests that the extant diversity is the result of a surprisingly recent and rapid radiation that has been difficult to resolve with standard Sanger sequence data. In order to resolve the early branching events of stick and leaf insects, we analyzed transcriptomes from 61 species, including 38 Phasmatodea species comprising all major clades and 23 outgroup taxa, including all other Polyneoptera orders. Using a custom-made ortholog set based on reference genomes from four species, we identified on average 2,274 orthologous genes in the sequenced transcriptomes. We generated various sub-alignments and performed maximum-likelihood analyses on several representative datasets to evaluate the effect of missing data and matrix composition on our phylogenetic estimates. Based on our new data, we are able to reliably resolve the deeper nodes between the principal lineages of extant Phasmatodea. Among Euphasmatodea, we provide strong evidence for a basal dichotomy of Aschiphasmatodea and all remaining euphasmatodeans, the Neophasmatodea. Within the latter clade, we recovered a previously unrecognized major New World and Old World lineage, for which we introduce the new names Oriophasmata tax. nov. (“Eastern phasmids”) and Occidophasmata tax. nov. (“Western phasmids”). Occidophasmata comprise Diapheromerinae, Pseudophasmatinae, and Agathemera, whereas all remaining lineages form the Oriophasmata, including Heteropterygidae, Phylliinae, Bacillus, Lonchodidae (Necrosciinae + Lonchodinae), Clitumninae, Cladomorphinae, and Lanceocercata. We furthermore performed a divergence time analysis and reconstructed the historical biogeography for stick and leaf insects. Phasmatodea either originated in Southeast Asia or in the New World. Our results suggest that the extant distribution of Phasmatodea is largely the result of dispersal events in a recently and rapidly diversified insect lineage rather than the result of vicariant processes.

Keywords: Phasmids, transcriptomes, historical biogeography, Polyneoptera, Euphasmatodea

Received: 23 May 2019; Accepted: 28 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Simon, Letsch, Bank, Buckley, Donath, Liu, Machida, Meusemann, Misof, Podsiadlowski, Zhuo, Wipfler and Bradler. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sven Bradler, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany,