Diversification of the phytophagous lineages of true bugs (Insecta: Hemiptera: Heteroptera) shortly after that of the flowering plants

Cladistics. 2022 Aug;38(4):403-428. doi: 10.1111/cla.12501. Epub 2022 Mar 29.


More than 95% of phytophagous true bug (Hemiptera: Heteroptera) species belong to four superfamilies: Miroidea (Cimicomorpha), Pentatomoidea, Coreoidea, and Lygaeoidea (all Pentatomomorpha). These iconic groups of highly diverse, overwhelmingly phytophagous insects include several economically prominent agricultural and silvicultural pest species, though their evolutionary history has not yet been well resolved. In particular, superfamily- and family-level phylogenetic relationships of these four lineages have remained controversial, and the divergence times of some crucial nodes for phytophagous true bugs have hitherto been little known, which hampers a better understanding of the evolutionary processes and patterns of phytophagous insects. In the present study, we used 150 species and concatenated nuclear and mitochondrial protein-coding genes and rRNA genes to infer the phylogenetic relationships within the Terheteroptera (Cimicomorpha + Pentatomomorpha) and estimated their divergence times. Our results support the monophyly of Cimicomorpha, Pentatomomorpha, Miroidea, Pentatomoidea, Pyrrhocoroidea, Coreoidea, and Lygaeoidea. The phylogenetic relationships across phytophagous lineages are largely congruent at deep nodes across the analyses based on different datasets and tree-reconstructing methods with just a few exceptions. Estimated divergence times and ancestral state reconstructions for feeding habit indicate that phytophagous true bugs explosively radiated in the Early Cretaceous-shortly after the angiosperm radiation-with the subsequent diversification of the most speciose clades (Mirinae, Pentatomidae, Coreinae, and Rhyparochromidae) in the Late Cretaceous.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Heteroptera* / genetics
  • Magnoliopsida*
  • Phylogeny