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Diversity among parasitic wasps is even greater than suspected
Date:8/29/2008

th Whitfield and fellow former graduate student Andy Deans, who is now on the faculty at North Carolina State University, to independently identify the species based on their morphological traits.

M. Alex Smith and Paul Hebert at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario conducted the barcoding analysis, which compared the sequence of nucleotides that spell out the barcode region of the cytochrome c oxidase 1 gene in every specimen. Significant differences between the sequences indicated that the specimens belonged to different species if those differences correlated with other morphological and/or ecological traits. In cases where the genetic data were murky, the researchers also analyzed other genes and again compared their results to the ecological and morphological data.

The new analysis, which appeared online this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sheds new light on a group of insects that are already astounding in their diversity, Whitfield said.

"The family Braconidae, to which the microgastrines belong, has about 15,000 described species in the world, and it's been estimated to have 50 to 60,000 species, which is about the same as all vertebrates all fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles which is a lot!" Whitfield said. "And what we're saying is that if anything we're underestimating how many more there are."


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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