Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 23 (20), 2058-62

Phylogenomics Resolves Evolutionary Relationships Among Ants, Bees, and Wasps


Phylogenomics Resolves Evolutionary Relationships Among Ants, Bees, and Wasps

Brian R Johnson et al. Curr Biol.

Erratum in

  • Curr Biol. 2013 Dec 16;23(24):2565


Eusocial behavior has arisen in few animal groups, most notably in the aculeate Hymenoptera, a clade comprising ants, bees, and stinging wasps [1-4]. Phylogeny is crucial to understanding the evolution of the salient features of these insects, including eusociality [5]. Yet the phylogenetic relationships among the major lineages of aculeate Hymenoptera remain contentious [6-12]. We address this problem here by generating and analyzing genomic data for a representative series of taxa. We obtain a single well-resolved and strongly supported tree, robust to multiple methods of phylogenetic inference. Apoidea (spheciform wasps and bees) and ants are sister groups, a novel finding that contradicts earlier views that ants are closer to ectoparasitoid wasps. Vespid wasps (paper wasps, yellow jackets, and relatives) are sister to all other aculeates except chrysidoids. Thus, all eusocial species of Hymenoptera are contained within two major groups, characterized by transport of larval provisions and nest construction, likely prerequisites for the evolution of eusociality. These two lineages are interpolated among three other clades of wasps whose species are predominantly ectoparasitoids on concealed hosts, the inferred ancestral condition for aculeates [2]. This phylogeny provides a new framework for exploring the evolution of nesting, feeding, and social behavior within the stinging Hymenoptera.

Comment in

  • Social Insects: Are Ants Just Wingless Bees?
    BN Danforth. Curr Biol 23 (22), R1011-R1012. PMID 24262827.
    New phylogenomic analyses suggest that ants and Apoidea (hunting wasps and bees) are more closely related than we had previously believed.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 41 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types


Associated data

LinkOut - more resources