Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA.
Among the 30 known genera within subfamily Peiratinae, only the genus has a cosmopolitan distribution. The results of our studies are the first comprehensive analysis concerning one of the representatives of mentioned subfamily based on joint phylogenetic analyses of molecular and morphological data as well as molecular dating. A total of 32 species were included into the dataset with all known species of the genus . Material of over 400 dry specimens was examined for the morphological part of this study. The cosmopolitan distribution of and the inaccessibility of specimens preserved in alcohol required the extraction of DNA from the dried skeletal muscles of specimens deposited in 24 entomological collections. The oldest specimens used for the successful extraction and sequencing were collected more than 120 years ago in India. We performed Bayesian Inference analyses of molecular and morphological data separately, as well as combined analysis. The molecular and morphological data obtained during our research verify the correlation of the divergence dates of all known species. Results of the relaxed molecular clock analysis of the molecular data show that, the genus started diverging in the Late Cretaceous into two clades, which subsequently began to branch off in the Paleocene. Our results of phylogenetic analyses suggest that the and its development could be one of the most important morphological characters in the evolution of the genus, most likely associated with the ecological niche inhabited by representatives. Confirmation of the results obtained in our studies is the reconciliation of the evolutionary history of with the biogeographical processes that have shaped current global distribution of the genus.
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