A new megaspilid wasp from Eocene Baltic amber – our latest open access publication

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Mikó I, van de Kamp T, Trietsch C, Ulmer JM, Zuber M, Baumbach T, Deans AR. (2018A new megaspilid wasp from Eocene Baltic amber (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronoidea), with notes on two non-ceraphronoid families: Radiophronidae and StigmaphronidaePeerJ 6:e5174 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5174

Abstract.—Ceraphronoids are some of the most commonly collected hymenopterans, yet they remain rare in the fossil record. Conostigmus talamasi Mikó and Trietsch, sp. nov. from Baltic amber represents an intermediate form between the type genus, Megaspilus, and one of the most species-rich megaspilid genera, Conostigmus. We describe the new species using 3D data collected with synchrotron-based micro-CT equipment. This non-invasive technique allows for quick data collection in unusually high resolution, revealing morphological traits that are otherwise obscured by the amber. In describing this new species, we revise the diagnostic characters for Ceraphronoidea and discuss possible reasons why minute wasps with a pterostigma are often misidentified as ceraphronoids. Based on the lack of ceraphronoid characteristics, we remove Dendrocerus dubitatus Brues, 1937, Stigmaphronidae, and Radiophronidae from Ceraphronoidea and consider them as incertae sedis. We also provide some guidance for their future classification.

Ceraphron krogmanni (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae), a new species from Lower Saxony – our latest open access publication

the male genitalia of this wasp species are large and unusual

Ulmer JM, Miko I, Deans AR (2018) Ceraphron krogmanni (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae), a new species from Lower Saxony with unusual male genitalia. Biodiversity Data Journal 6: e24173. DOI: 10.3897/BDJ.6.e24173

Background

Male genitalia phenotypes of Ceraphron (Jurine, 1807) are informative for species delimitation, but due to their minute size, these characters have not been used extensively. Recent developments in visualisation techniques, e.g. confocal laser scanning microscopy and high resolution bright field imaging, allow for more thorough examination of these minute anatomical structures and the development of a robust, male genitalia-based taxonomic system. We also establish a character set, a template, that will facilitate future revisions of these wasps.

New information

Ceraphron krogmanni sp. nov. is described with outsized male genitalia and multiple diagnostic traits that are unique amongst Ceraphron species.

Unique extrication structure in a new megaspilid – our latest open access publication

wasp glued to a point made from cardstock

Trietsch C, Mikó I, Notton D, Deans A (2018) Unique extrication structure in a new megaspilid, Dendrocerus scutellaris Trietsch & Mikó (Hymenoptera: Megaspilidae). Biodiversity Data Journal 6: e22676. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.6.e22676

Abstract.—A new species, Dendrocerus scutellaris Trietsch & Mikó (HymenopteraMegaspilidae), is described here from male and female specimens captured in Costa Rica. This species is the only known ceraphronoid wasp with a straight mandibular surface and raised dorsal projections on the scutellum, called the mesoscutellar comb. It is hypothesised that the function of the mesoscutellar comb is to aid the emergence of the adult from the host, especially since the mandibles lack a pointed surface to tear open the pupal case. The authors also provide phenotypic data in a semantic form to facilitate data integration and accessibility across taxa and provide an updated phenotype bank of morphological characters for megaspilid taxonomic treatments. In updating this phenotype bank, the authors continue to make taxonomic data accessible to future systematic efforts focusing on Ceraphronoidea.

Translucent cuticle and setiferous patches in Megaspilidae – our latest open access publication

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Trietsch C, Mikó I, Ulmer JM, Deans AR (2017) Translucent cuticle and setiferous patches in Megaspilidae (Hymenoptera, Ceraphronoidea). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 60: 135-156. DOI: 10.3897/jhr.60.13692

Abstract.—All Ceraphronoidea have metasomal patches of translucent cuticle and setae that have never been investigated before, despite their potential behavioral and phylogenetic relevance. To understand the internal and external morphology of these structures, specimens were examined using a broad array of histology-based methods, including transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBFSEM). For the first time, the setiferous patches are shown to be associated with exocrine glands in Ceraphronoidea. The proposed glandular function is the secretion of pheromones, with the setae above the pore openings serving as a surface for evaporation. The translucent cuticle is morphologically distinct from the setiferous patches; structures resembling lamellar bodies were found underneath the translucent cuticle, and may be associated with photoreceptors or endocrine glands. The locations of translucent cuticle on the metasoma are unique to different families and genera within Ceraphronoidea, and could be useful for inferring phylogenetic relationships. The character distribution suggests that the genera Trassedia and Masner are more closely related to Ceraphronidae than Megaspilidae. We found similar structures containing translucent cuticle in Orussidae and Ichneumonoidea, indicating that these structures are potentially a rich character system for future phylogenetic analysis in Hymenoptera.

Malpighian tubules in Trichoplusia ni – our latest open access publication

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CLSM volume rendered micrograph showing the Malpighian tubules and the urinary bladder of Trichoplusia ni. Image by Loren Rivera-Vega (source)

Rivera-Vega L, Mikó I (2017) Know your insect: Malpighian tubules in Trichoplusia ni (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Research Ideas and Outcomes 3: e11827. DOI: 10.3897/rio.3.e11827

Abstract.—Malpighian tubules are mainly known to be involved in excretion. However, recent studies have begun to look into other potential roles including detoxification, immunity, host establishment, etc. In this case study, we observed the Malpighian tubules of the cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) using confocal laser scanning microscopy. We also discuss other functions that Malpighian tubules are known for (i.e. silk-like and gall-inducing secretions) as well as the similarities between Malpighian tubules and salivary glands in endoparasitic Hymenoptera.

Bringing the George H. and Alice F. Beatty Odonata collection into the digital age – our latest publication

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George and Alice Beatty observing odonates. Photo (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/yqg41q

Sandall, E. L. (2016) Bringing the George H. and Alice F. Beatty Odonata collection into the digital age. Argia 28(4): 33–34 (preprint – DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.4490552.v1)

Abstract.—A collection of over 60,000 odonate specimens can tell many stories. It can show the successful preservation of dragonflies and damselflies, as well as the differences in prey and habitat associations between taxa. The field notes can share observations and collecting details with those who may have never seen a particular species in the field. A collection of this size can also demonstrate the importance of natural history museums and their contents, enabling biodiversity research decades later. Of particular interest is the mobility of collections in the digital age, as evidenced through the U.S. NSF’s investment in Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC) grants, liberating natural history data on which novel research can be conducted. Over the past two years, I have worked with the collection of George H. and Alice F. Beatty at the Frost Entomological Museum at Penn State University in order to digitize the specimens in the collection, catalog them, and find ways to use their data through an NSF Thematic Collections Network (TCN) grant for digitization.

New Dryocosmus Giraud species – our latest open access publication

When it rains it pours. Here’s the latest open access publication, from István, former lab member Szabina Schwéger, and their colleagues!

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Galls of Dryocosmus taitungensis. Photo by C.-T. Tang. Source: 10.3897/jhr.53.9890

Tang C-T, Mikó I, Nicholls JA, Schwéger S, Yang M-M, Stone GN, Sinclair F, Bozsó M, Melika G, Pénzes Z (2016) New Dryocosmus Giraud species associated with Cyclobalanopsis and non-Quercus host plants from the Eastern Palaearctic (Hymenoptera, Cynipidae, Cynipini). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 53: 77-162. DOI: 10.3897/jhr.53.9890

Abstract.—Our knowledge about gall wasps associated with the diverse East Asian oaks, Castanopsis and Cyclobalanopsis, is limited due to the lack of extensive field studies. Here, we describe twelve new oak gall wasp species, Dryocosmus cannoni Schwéger & Tang, D. caputgrusi Tang & Schwéger, D. crinitus Schwéger & Tang, D. harrisonae Melika & Tang, D. hearni Melika &Tang, D. hualieni Schwéger & Tang, D. konradi Tang & Melika, D. liyingi Melika & Tang, D. moriius Tang & Melika, D. quadripetiolus Schwéger & Tang, D. salicinai Schwéger & Tang, and D. taitungensis Tang & Melika, from Taiwan and mainland China. Seven newly described species induce galls on Quercus subgenus Cyclobalanopsis and five on other Fagaceae genus, Castanopsis. All of the new species concepts are supported by morphological and molecular data. We provide descriptions, diagnoses, host associations for the new species and an illustrated identification key to Eastern Palaearctic Dryocosmus species. We represent natural language phenotypes in a semantic format supported by biomedical ontologies to increase the accessibility of morphological data.