Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type






First Advisor

Dr. Michael J. Sharkey


Two separate phylogenetic studies were performed for two different taxonomic levels within Hymenoptera. The first study examined the utility of expressed sequence tags for resolving relationships among hymenopteran superfamilies. Transcripts were assembled from 14,000 sequenced clones for 6 disparate Hymenopteran taxa, averaging over 660 unique contigs per species. Orthology and gene determination were performed using modifications to a previously developed computerized pipeline and compared against annotated insect genomes. Sequences from additional taxa were added from public databases with a final dataset of 24 genes for 16 taxa.

The concatenated dataset recovered a robust and well-supported topology; however, there was extreme incongruity among individual gene trees. Analyses of sequences indicated strong compositional and transition biases, particularly in the third codon positions. The use of filtered supernetworks aided visualization of the existing congruent phylogenetic signal that existed across the individual gene trees. Additionally, treeness triangle plots indicated a strong residual signal in several gene trees and across codon positions in the concatenated dataset. However, most analyses of the concatenated dataset recovered expected relationships, known from other independent analyses. Thus, ESTs provide a powerful source of information for phylogenetic analysis, but results are sensitive to low taxonomic sampling and missing data.

The second study examined subfamilial relationships within the parasitoid family Braconidae, using over 4kb of sequence data for 139 taxa. Bayesian inference of the concatenated dataset recovered a robust phylogeny, particularly for early divergences within the family. There was strong evidence supporting two independent lineages within the family: one leading to the noncyclostomes and one leading to the cyclostomes. Ancestral state reconstructions were performed to test the theory of ectoparasitism as the ancestral condition for all taxa within the family. Results indicated an endoparasitic ancestor for the family and for the non-cyclostome lineage, with an early transition to ectoparasitism for the cyclostome lineage. However, reconstructions of some nodes were sensitive to outgroup coding and will also be impacted with increased biological knowledge.

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Entomology Commons