Phylogenomics of Ichneumonoidea (Hymenoptera) and implications for evolution of mode of parasitism and viral endogenization

Barbara J. Sharanowski, Ryan D. Ridenbaugh, Patrick K. Piekarski, Gavin R. Broad, Gaelen R. Burke, Andrew R. Deans, Alan R. Lemmon, Emily C. Moriarty Lemmon, Gloria J. Diehl, James B. Whitfield, Heather M. Hines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ichneumonoidea is one of the most diverse lineages of animals on the planet with >48,000 described species and many more undescribed. Parasitoid wasps of this superfamily are mostly beneficial insects that attack and kill other arthropods and are important for understanding diversification and the evolution of life history strategies related to parasitoidism. Further, some lineages of parasitoids within Ichneumonoidea have acquired endogenous virus elements (EVEs) that are permanently a part of the wasp's genome and benefit the wasp through host immune disruption and behavioral control. Unfortunately, understanding the evolution of viral acquisition, parasitism strategies, diversification, and host immune disruption mechanisms, is deeply limited by the lack of a robust phylogenetic framework for Ichneumonoidea. Here we design probes targeting 541 genes across 91 taxa to test phylogenetic relationships, the evolution of parasitoid strategies, and the utility of probes to capture polydnavirus genes across a diverse array of taxa. Phylogenetic relationships among Ichneumonoidea were largely well resolved with most higher-level relationships maximally supported. We noted codon use biases between the outgroups, Braconidae, and Ichneumonidae and within Pimplinae, which were largely solved through analyses of amino acids rather than nucleotide data. These biases may impact phylogenetic reconstruction and caution for outgroup selection is recommended. Ancestral state reconstructions were variable for Braconidae across analyses, but consistent for reconstruction of idiobiosis/koinobiosis in Ichneumonidae. The data suggest many transitions between parasitoid life history traits across the whole superfamily. The two subfamilies within Ichneumonidae that have polydnaviruses are supported as distantly related, providing strong evidence for two independent acquisitions of ichnoviruses. Polydnavirus capture using our designed probes was only partially successful and suggests that more targeted approaches would be needed for this strategy to be effective for surveying taxa for these viral genes. In total, these data provide a robust framework for the evolution of Ichneumonoidea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107023
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Ancestral State Reconstruction
  • Anchored hybrid enrichment
  • Braconidae
  • Ichneumonidae
  • Parasitoid wasps
  • Polydnavirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology


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