A taxonomic toolkit ends a century of neglect for a genus of parasitic wasps

December 15, 2014

In 1912, three species in the parasitic wasp genus Ophion were described by two different entomologists, increasing the number of known species in North America to eleven. It has long been known that the actual diversity is much higher; however, it took 102 years for any additional species to be described.

"The main reason for this is that everyone has assumed that Ophion are just too difficult to tell apart. Museum collections are full of unidentified Ophion, but nobody has wanted to face the challenge of sorting them out" said Marla Schwarzfeld, an entomologist who recently completed her Ph.D. at the University of Alberta, Canada.

In fact, the author of one of the species described in 1912, Claude Morley, stated: "Without abundant material it were ridiculous to attempt a wide revision of these insects; and ... a mass of this material causes one's courage to sink at the sight of so uniform and apparently characterless a group."

However, with the advent of new taxonomic tools, it is no longer necessary to rely solely on the challenging morphology of the group. Schwarzfeld and her Ph.D. supervisor, Felix Sperling, used a combination of molecular and morphometric analyses to define a new species group within Ophion, and to delimit and describe six new species within this group. The molecular work involved the analysis of three different genetic markers, while the morphometric analyses included both an analysis of wing venation and a more traditional approach of measuring various body parts. The study, including the new descriptions, has recently been published in the open-access journal, ZooKeys.

"The exciting part about this work is that these techniques all gave remarkably congruent results, which gives us a lot of confidence in these new species. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of describing species, and will be a really valuable toolkit for studying additional species of Ophion, as well as species in other morphogically-challenging groups" declared Schwarzfeld.
Original Source

Schwarzfeld MD, Sperling FAH (2014) Species delimitation using morphology, morphometrics, and molecules: definition of the Ophion scutellaris Thomson species group, with descriptions of six new species (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae). ZooKeys 462: 59-114. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.462.8229

Pensoft Publishers

Related Genetic Markers Articles from Brightsurf:

New genetic markers of glucosinolates in rapeseed may help improve oil composition
A group of scientists performed a genetic analysis of the Russian rapeseed collection.

Neuroendocrine markers of grief
Researchers have examined what's currently known about the neuroendocrine effects of grief and whether biological factors can predict complicated or prolonged grief after the death of a loved one.

Study shows genetic markers are useful in predicting osteoporotic fracture risk
A new study shows that genetic pre-screening could reduce the number of screening tests needed to identify individuals at risk for osteoporotic fractures.

New genetic markers of type 2 diabetes identified in East Asians
In the largest study of its kind in any non-European population, an international team of researchers, including a University of Massachusetts Amherst genetic epidemiologist, has identified new genetic links with type 2 diabetes among 433,540 East Asian individuals.

First-in-kind study reveals genetic markers of type 2 diabetes in East Asians
This research, published in Nature, shows how different populations of people share most of the genetic susceptibilities to developing type 2 diabetes but do have some different genetic variations that can make them more or less susceptible to developing the condition.

Indicators of cancer may also be markers of heart failure
Heart failure and cancer are conditions with a number of shared characteristics.

Epigenetics: Inheritance of epigenetic markers
A study undertaken by an international team led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich molecular biologist Axel Imhof sheds new light on the mechanisms that control the establishment of epigenetic modifications on newly synthesized histones following cell division.

Potential genetic markers of multiple sclerosis severity
In a bid to determine factors linked to the most debilitating forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have identified three so-called 'complement system' genes that appear to play a role in MS-caused vision loss.

TalTech immunologists develop new leucocyte markers
An article entitled 'Human Peripheral Blood Eosinophils Express High Levels of the Purinergic Receptor P2X4' written by an international immunology research group was recently published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Immunology.

Genetic markers linked to the start of symptoms of Parkinson's disease
Researchers from the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona (UBNeuro), Hospital ClĂ­nic and the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) have identified a group of genetic variants related to the starting point of Parkinson's disease.

Read More: Genetic Markers News and Genetic Markers Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.