Six species of Australian gall-forming thrips (Insecta: Thysanoptera) onAcaciaexhibit soldier castes, individuals with reduced wings and enlarged forelegs that defend their gall against interspecific invaders. We used data from two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome oxidase I and 16S rDNA), adult morphology and behavior, and gall morphology to infer a phylogeny forAcaciagall-forming thrips with and without soldiers, and we used this phylogeny to evaluate hypotheses concerning soldier evolution. Phylogenies inferred from each data set analyzed separately yielded large numbers of most-parsimonious trees and weak support for most nodes. However, when analyzed together the data sets complemented and reinforced one another in such a way as to yield a well-resolved phylogeny. Our phylogeny implies that soldiers originated once or twice early in the history of this clade, that soldiers were lost once or twice, and that soldiers evolved from winged dispersers rather than from nonsoldier within-gall reproductive offspring of foundresses. The phylogeny also provides evidence for long-term morphological stasis, an ancient split between eastern and western gall thrips species, and a high degree of conservatism in host-plant affiliations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology