Phylogenetic congruence of mealybugs and their primary endosymbionts


D. A. Downie, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa.
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Tight interactions between unrelated organisms such as is seen in plant–insect, host–parasite, or host–symbiont associations may lead to speciation of the smaller partners when their hosts speciate. Totally congruent phylogenies of interacting taxa have not been observed often but a number of studies have provided evidence that various hemipteran insect taxa and their primary bacterial endosymbionts share phylogenetic histories. Like other hemipterans, mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) harbour multiple intracellular bacterial symbionts, which are thought to be strictly vertically inherited, implying codivergence of hosts and symbionts. Here, robust estimates of phylogeny were generated from four fragments of three nuclear genes for mealybugs of the subfamily Pseudococcinae, and a substantial fragment of the 16S–23S rDNA of their P-endosymbionts. Phylogenetic congruence was highly significant, with 75% of nodes on the two trees identical, and significant correlation of branch lengths indicated coincident timing of cladogenesis. It is suggested that the low level of observed incongruence was influenced by uncertainty in phylogenetic estimation, but evolutionary outcomes other than congruence, including host shifts, could not be rejected.