Phylogency of a Macaronesian radiation: host-plant use and possible cryptic speciation in Liparthrum bark beetles

Bjarte H. Jordal, Lawrence R. Kirkendall, Kjetil Harkestad

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The Macaronesian islands are well known for their unique endemic floras of woody plants. Many of these unusual plant groups provide important novel resources for bark and wood boring beetles which breed in dead or moribund parts of their host plants. The bark beetle genus Liparthrum exploits a wide range of unusual host plants and has its highest proportion of species living on the Macaronesian Islands. We used DNA sequences of the mitochondrial Cytochrome Oxidase I gene and the nuclear Elongation Factor 1α gene, and morphological characters, to estimate the phylogenetic relationships among species endemic to these archipelagos, and to trace the evolution of host-plant use. All parsimony and Bayesian analyses of the combined data, and maximum likelihood analyses of the molecular data, showed that species associated with Euphorbia are monophyletic. We also found genetic and subtle morphological evidence for three cases of cryptic speciation in one polyphyletic species associated with different Euphorbia plants, showing that high levels of host specialisation can occur also in insects breeding in older and very dry, dead plant tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-571
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2004

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