Bees diversified in the age of eudicots.

Cardinal, S. and Danforth, B.N. (2013). "Bees diversified in the age of eudicots.", Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280(1755), pp. 1-9, Article 20122686. doi : 10.1098/rspb.2012.2686  Access to full text


Reliable estimates on the ages of the major bee clades are needed to further understand the evolutionary history of bees and their close association with flowering plants. Divergence times have been estimated for a few groups of bees, but no study has yet provided estimates for all major bee lineages. To date the origin of bees and their major clades, we first perform a phylogenetic analysis of bees including representatives from every extant family, subfamily and almost all tribes, using sequence data from seven genes. We then use this phylogeny to place 14 time calibration points based on information from the fossil record for an uncorrelated relaxed clock divergence time analysis taking into account uncertainties in phylogenetic relationships and the fossil record. We explore the effect of placing a hard upper age bound near the root of the tree and the effect of different topologies on our divergence time estimates. We estimate that crown bees originated approximately 123 Ma (million years ago) (113-132 Ma), concurrently with the origin or diversification of the eudicots, a group comprising 75 per cent of angiosperm species. All of the major bee clades are estimated to have originated during the Middle to Late Cretaceous, which is when angiosperms became the dominant group of land plants.

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