The use of wing shape for characterising macroevolution in mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae)

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The wing form of culicid mosquitoes shows considerable variation among groups: this phenomenon has been addressed by several studies through space-time analyses in mosquito populations, species, and genera. The observed variation results from a combination of two distinct factors: heredity and phenotypic plasticity. The first is usually related to wing shape, a complex character that may serve as a taxonomic marker in specific cases. We hypothesized that wing shape might be phylogenetically meaningful in Culicidae. In this study, we applied a geometric morphometrical approach based on 18 landmarks in 81 species of mosquitoes, representing 19 different genera, to investigate whether wing shape can help retrieve macroevolutionary patterns or identify any phylogenetic signals. We observed that wing shape differed considerably among groups, especially between Anophelinae and Culicinae subfamilies; thus, some wing shape elements may be synapomorphic. Comparisons among wing consensus after Procrustes superimposition revealed that landmark #1, located between the veins RS and R1, was the most variable. Sabethini tribe was distinguished from other taxa owing to a strong phylogenetic signal of its wings, whereas other culicids presented weaker signals and were not that distinguishable. Evolutionary forces such as natural selection, evolutionary limitation/constraint, or canalization mechanisms might drive the evolution of wing phenotype. These findings suggest that the wing undergoes evolution over long periods, but is not neutral enough to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of these insects. Gene-based studies should be performed to understand the driving forces in wing evolution.
Lorenz C, Suesdek L. The use of wing shape for characterising macroevolution in mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae). Infect. Genet. Evol.. 2020 Jan;77:104052. doi:10.1016/j.meegid.2019.104052.
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