February 17 2015

12:00 158 Hershey Hall

Corrie Moreau
Department of Science and Education, Field Museum of Natural History

Ants, Plants, and Bacteria: Symbiosis and Evolutionary Diversification


To fully understand the macroevolutionary factors that have promoted the diversification and persistence of biological diversity varied tools and disciplines must be integrated. By combining data from several fields including molecular phylogenetics/phylogenomics, biogeographic range reconstruction, stable isotope analyses, and microbial community sequencing to study the evolutionary history of the insects, we are beginning to understand the drivers of speciation and the interconnectedness of life. Molecular phylogenetic analyses are providing a stable framework for the ant tree of life and divergence dating suggests that the ants originated \~140 million years ago and diversified after the rise of the angiosperms \(Moreau et al. 2006\; Moreau 2009\; Moreau \&\; Bell 2011\; Moreau \&\; Bell 2013\). Biogeographic range reconstruction suggests that the Neotropics were historically \(museum\) and continue \(cradle\) to be an important geographic region for the evolution of the ants \(Moreau \&\; Bell 2013\). While studies combining stable isotope analysis to infer the trophic ecology of the ants and next-generation sequencing of gut-associated bacteria of ants highlight the importance of this microbiome association in the evolution of herbivory \(Russell, Moreau et al. 2009\; Kautz et al. 2013\). These multiple lines of evidence are illuminating a more complete picture of ant evolution and providing novel insights into the factors that promote biological diversity.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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