Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Grand Exhibit Hall (Town and Country Hotel and Convention Center)
Glyptapanteles is one of the most common and largest genera among the Neotropical Microgastrinae fauna, but its relationship with the other genera of the subfamily remains uncertain. The insufficient molecular data available for some genera, as well as meager representation for some diverse genera, are some of the obstacles that have hindered this task. Recently the situation has been changed due to the extensive and independent sampling efforts of ongoing research projects in some of the so-called megadiverse countries in the Neotropics. This is the case in Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador: three surveys that have provided valuable material and have produced a plentiful harvest of Microgastrinae with detailed ecological data. Taking advantage of these samples compiled in the Whitfield laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I am conducting a morphological study of Glyptapanteles, for which there already is an extensive DNA barcode library for Glyptapanteles, mainly from Costa Rica. I aim to explore morphological variation in these already barcoded specimens, to begin the process of formal species descriptions (for ~100 species). As morphology alone may not be enough to evaluate variability within Glyptapanteles, simultaneously I am extracting nuclear DNA for all samples, as well as CO1 from the non-barcoded Colombian and Ecuador samples. The combined data will undeniably be a powerful tool for identifying species and uncovering cryptic species. I will assess the correspondence between morphological and barcoding data in order to attain a more accurate definition of the boundaries between species, and to produce the first robust phylogeny to Glyptapanteles combining molecules and gene data sets.