Free access
Volume 39, Number 1, January-February 2008
Insights into Bee Evolution: A Tribute to Charles D. Michener
Page(s) 146 - 162
Published online 23 January 2008
Apidologie 39 (2008) 146-162
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2007048

Phylogeny and host-plant evolution in Melittidae s.l. (Hymenoptera: Apoidea)

Denis Michez1, Sébastien Patiny2, Pierre Rasmont1, Kim Timmermann3 and Nicolas J. Vereecken4

1  Université de Mons-Hainaut, Laboratoire de Zoologie, Pentagone, 6 avenue du Champs de Mars, 7000 Mons, Belgium
2  Faculté universitaire des Sciences agronomiques de Gembloux, Unité d'Entomologie fonctionnelle et évolutive, 2 passage des Déportés, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium
3  Institute of Landscape Ecology, University of Münster, 26 Robert Koch-Strasse, 48149 Münster, Germany
4  Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology, Free University of Brussels CP 160/12, 50 avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels, Belgium

(Received 13 June 2007 - Revised 21 August 2007 - Accepted 25 September 2007 - Published online 23 January 2008)

Abstract - Bees and the angiosperms they pollinate have developed intimate and often complex interactions over the past 100 million years. As in other insect-plant interactions, host-plant specificity is variable among taxa. While many solitary bee species display an obvious preference for a narrow spectrum of host-plants (oligolecty), others regularly visit a diversified array of pollen hosts (polylecty). Few studies have examined the patterns of host-plant associations in bees using well-resolved phylogenies at the species level combined with accurate and quantitative data on host-plant preferences. In this study, we examined the evolution of bee-plant relationships in several genera of specialist (oligolectic) bees. We used the Melittidae s.l. as a model taxon by mapping the preferred pollen hosts onto species-level phylogenies to investigate the frequency and pattern of host-plant switching. Our results suggest that host-plant associations are maintained over time in many lineages, but that host switches to unrelated plant families are also common. We find some evidence that host-switches occur more frequently to morphologically similar, rather than closely-related, host-plants suggesting that floral morphology plays a key role in host-plant evolution in bees.

Key words: bees / Melittidae s.l. / oligolecty / polylecty / phylogeny / evolution / host-plant

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008