Analysis of sequences from a 3.5-kb region of the nuclear ribosomal 28S DNA gene spanning divergent domains D2-D10 supports the hypothesis, based on fossil, biogeographic, and behavioral evidence, that treehoppers (Aetalionidae and Membracidae) are derived from leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). Maximum-parsimony analysis indicated that treehoppers are the sister group of a lineage comprising the currently recognized cicadellid subfamilies Agalliinae, Megophthalminae, Adelungiinae, and Ulopinae. Based on this phylogenetic estimate, the derivation of treehoppers approximately coincided with shifts in physiology and behavior, including loss of brochosome production and a reversal from active, jumping nymphs to sessile, nonjumping nymphs. Myerslopiidae, traditionally placed as a tribe of the cicadellid subfamily Ulopinae, represented a basal lineage distinct from other extant membracoids. The analysis recovered a large leafhopper lineage comprising a polyphyletic Deltocephalinae (sensu stricto) and its apparent derivatives Koebeliinae, Eupelicinae (polyphyletic), Selenocephalinae, and Penthimiinae. Clades comprising Macropsinae, Neocoelidiinae, Scarinae, Iassinae, Coelidiinae, Eurymelinae + Idiocerinae, Evacanthini + Pagaroniini, Aphrodinae + Ledrinae (in part), Stenocotini + Tartessinae, and Cicadellini + Proconiini were also recovered with moderate to high branch support. Cicadellinae (sensu lato), Ledrinae, Typhlocybinae, and Xestocephalinae were consistently polyphyletic on the most-parsimonious topologies, but constraining these groups to be monophyletic did not significantly increase the length of the cladograms. Relationships among the major lineages received low branch support, suggesting that more data are needed to provide a robust phylogenetic estimate.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.