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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2001 Sep;20(3):437-49.

Molecular systematics of aphids and their primary endosymbionts.

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Institut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat i Biologia Evolutiva, Universitat de València, València, Apartado de Correos 2085, 46071, Spain.


Aphids constitute a monophyletic group within the order Homoptera (i.e., superfamily Aphidoidea). The Aphidoidea originated in the Jurassic about 150 my ago from some aphidiform ancestor whose origin can be traced back to about 250 my ago. They exhibit a mutualistic association with intracellular bacteria (Buchnera sp.) related to Escherichia coli. Buchnera is usually considered the aphids' primary endosymbiont. The association is obligate for both partners. The 16S rDNA-based phylogeny of Buchnera from four aphid families showed complete concordance with the morphology-based phylogeny of their aphid hosts, which pointed to a single original infection in a common ancestor of aphids some 100-250 my ago followed by cospeciation of aphids and Buchnera. This study concentrated on the molecular phylogeny of both the aphids and their primary endosymbionts of five aphid families including for the first time representatives of the family Lachnidae. We discuss results based on two Buchnera genes (16S rDNA and the beta subunit of the F-ATPase complex) and on one host mitochondrial gene (the subunit 6 of the F-ATPase complex). Although our data do not allow definitive evolutionary relationships to be established among the different aphid families, some traditionally accepted groupings are put into question from both bacterial and insect data. In particular, the Lachnidae and the Aphididae, which from morphological data are considered recently evolved sister groups, do not seem to be as closely related as is usually accepted. Finally, we discuss our results in the light of the proposed parallel evolution of aphids and their endosymbionts.

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