The Major Opsin in Bees (Insecta: Hymenoptera): A Promising Nuclear Gene for Higher Level Phylogenetics

Patrick Mardulyn, Sydney A. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the phylogenetic utility of the nuclear gene encoding the long-wavelength opsin (LW Rh) for tribes of bees. Aligned nucleotide sequences were examined in multiple taxa from the four tribes comprising the corbiculate bees within the subfamily Apinae. Phylogenetic analyses of sequence variation in a 502-bp fragment (approx 40% of the coding region) strongly supported the monophyly of each of the four tribes, which are well established from previous studies of morphology and DNA. Trees estimated from parsimony and maximum likelihood analyses of LW Rh sequences show a strongly supported relationship between the tribes Meliponini and Bombini, a relationship that has been found uniformly in studies of other genes (28S, 16S, and cytochrome b). All of the tribal clades as well as relationships among the tribes are supported by high bootstrap values, suggesting the utility of LW Rh in estimating tribal and subfamily rank for these bees. The sequences exhibit minimal base composition bias. Both 1st + 2nd and 3rd position sites provide information for estimating a reliable tree topology. These results suggest that LW Rh, which has not been reported previously in studies of organismal phylogenetics, could provide important new data from the nuclear genome for phylogeny reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-176
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Hymenoptera
  • LW Rh
  • Major opsin
  • bees
  • long wavelength rhodopsin
  • molecular phylogeny
  • nuclear gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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