October 03, 2007

Is There an Entomologist in the House?

I have a question for any entomologists who may happen to read this, or for someone who knows an entomologist or two for that matter.

Why is it that the Tenebrionidae, the second largest beetle family in the world as far as we know, has never been analyzed phylogenetically? How is it that nobody has ever done the molecular biology on these guys and determined monophyly? I would've thought that somebody would have wanted to investigate that sort of thing before now, but I've had it confirmed by a half dozen sources that it hasn't been done — and nobody can say why, other than one person making vague allusions to some sort of problem with extracting clean sequences.

Heck, even Tribe Bolitophagini apparently hasn't been done.

I'm a fungus dude, but I want to look at community ecology and possible interactions between basidiome-exploiting tenebs, the fungi themselves, and the gut flora of the insects vs. gallery microflora in the sporophores. In order to do that, I have to be able to characterize my organisms, so it's looking like I'm going to have to be the guy who finally attempts at least to look at intratribal phylogeny if not doing an outright phylogeny of the whole family.

Get on the ball, entomologists! I mean, do you really want a mycologist to be the one to determine whether or not a huge beetle taxon is actually monophyletic?

Oops, too late. Guess I'm on it now.

Harumph, I say! Harumph, harumph and thrice harumph! It'll serve y'all right if I figure out that everything under Tenebrionidae is polyphyletic!

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