Variation and the phylogenetic utility of the large ribosomal subunit of mitochondrial DNA from the insect order Hymenoptera. Academic Article uri icon


  • Nucleotide sequence variation from a 573-bp region of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene was determined for representative hymenopteran taxa. An overall bias in the distribution of A and T bases was observed from all taxa; however, the terebrants (parasitoids) displayed significantly lower AT ratios as well as a higher degree of strand asymmetry. Moreover, a strong positive correlation was observed between relative AT richness and sequence divergence, suggesting selection at the nucleotide level for A and T bases as well as functionality. Overall sequence difference ranged from 2.3 to 53.4%, with the maximum divergence between members of the two Hymenopteran suborders. These data were used in a phylogenetic analysis to illustrate the utility and degree of resolution provided by this information at various hierarchical levels within this taxonomically diverse order. Parsimony analysis revealed strong evidence for monophyly of the aculeates and the terebrants. Most noteworthy was a strongly supported clade containing the two terebrant superfamilies Icheumonoidea and Chalcidoidea. Conversely, high sequence divergence values resulted in instability at the base of the tree and limited resolution at the higher taxonomic levels. Nevertheless, these results do identify those taxonomic levels for which 16S rRNA sequences are phylogenetically informative.

published proceedings

  • Mol Phylogenet Evol

author list (cited authors)

  • Derr, J. N., Davis, S. K., Woolley, J. B., & Wharton, R. A.

citation count

  • 30

complete list of authors

  • Derr, JN||Davis, SK||Woolley, JB||Wharton, RA

publication date

  • June 1992