Although ladybird beetles (Coccinellidae: Coleoptera) are charismatic and have great ecological and economic significance, understanding of the evolutionary history of Coccinellidae remains poor. Many hypothesis of evolutionary relationships based on morphological features have been proposed, but none have been verified using a formal phylogenetic analysis. The objectives of this study was to apply molecular evidence of 16S rDNA to construct a molecular phylogeny for ladybird beetles, examining the monophyly of the tribes and several lower-level taxa within the group, and to establish basic phylogenetic patterns. 16S rDNA fragments were sequenced from 47 species of in-group and two species of out-group taxa. DNA data showed evidences of rapid evolution and saturation, having AT and transition at a higher level. 16S rDNA gene region indicated the availability of phylogenetic signals with the presence of skewness with significant hierarchical structure as well as having higher number of parsimony informative characters. Trees were reconstructed using multiple methods and characters mapped on the topology via Neigbour Joining and Minimum Evolution methods. 16S rDNA phylogenetic analyses were supported well on below tribe level relationships of the subfamilies. The genus level is prominent accumulating together the species belonging to same genus in all tribes. Results suggest that the molecular data provide robust support across the topology below tribe level and below genus level and that this topology provides important new insights as well as confirming the existing positions of the species in the evolution of the ladybird beetles.
Tropical Agricultural Research Vol. 21(2): 209-217 (2009)