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The ambush bugs (Heteroptera: Reduviidae: Phymatinae) are a diverse clade of predators known for their cryptic hunting behavior and morphologically diverse raptorial forelegs. Despite their striking appearance, role as pollinator predators, and intriguing biogeographic distribution, phylogenetic relationships within Phymatinae are largely unknown and the evolutionary history of the subfamily has remained in the dark. We here utilize the most extensive molecular phylogeny of ambush bugs to date, generated from a 3328 base pair molecular dataset, to refine our understanding of phymatine relationships, estimate dates of divergence (BEAST 2), and uncover historical biogeographic patterns (S-DIVA and DEC). This taxon set (39 species of Phymatinae and six outgroups) allowed reevaluation of the proposed sister group of Phymatinae and tribal-level relationships within the group, and for the first time proposes species-level relationships within Phymata Latreille, the largest genus of ambush bugs (∼109spp.). Available evidence suggests that Phymata originated in the Neotropical region, with subsequent dispersals to the Nearctic and Palearctic regions. This study provides a framework for future research investigating the evolutionary history of ambush bugs, as well as ecological and microevolutionary investigations. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Paul Masonick, Amy Michael, Sarah Frankenberg, Wolfgang Rabitsch, Christiane Weirauch. Molecular phylogenetics and biogeography of the ambush bugs (Hemiptera: Reduviidae: Phymatinae). Molecular phylogenetics and evolution. 2017 Sep;114:225-233

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PMID: 28634150

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