Phylogeny of the orchid bees (Hymenoptera: Apinae: Euglossini): DNA and morphology yield equivalent patterns

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2004 Jul;32(1):309-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2003.12.009.


Orchid bees (Euglossini) are spectacular long-tongued Neotropical bees important in the pollination of Neotropical long-corolla flowers, particularly some orchids. Besides remarkably long tongues, males in particular exhibit other flower-related adaptations, including setal brushes on the foretarsi used for rasping the petals of orchids while collecting aromatic compounds. These compounds are stored in large swollen tibiae and are thought to play an important role in courtship behavior. Euglossini are also unusual in lacking sociality; they are the only tribe among the corbiculate bees that are not eusocial, and two of the genera are cleptoparasitic. Each genus exhibits distinct behavioral traits including nest architecture and host-parasite interactions, yet their evolution is unknown. Despite previous phylogenetic studies of on morphological characters, the relationships among the five euglossine genera remain under debate. We investigate euglossine generic relationships using DNA sequence data from four genes and new morphological characters. The morphological and molecular data yield congruent evolutionary patterns, and combining the data gives a fully resolved and well supported phylogeny of Euglossini.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Peptide Elongation Factor 1 / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Peptide Elongation Factor 1
  • DNA