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

Alice Michel-Salzat, Sydney A. Cameron, Marcio L. Oliveira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 clepoparasitic. 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-323
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Combined data
  • Corbiculate bees
  • EF-1α
  • Molecular phylogeny
  • Neotropics
  • Nuclear genes
  • Opsin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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