Reduviidae Systematics


Higher-level phylogeny and classification

Higher-level classification of Reduviidae had a checkered history during the past centuries and even today there is little agreement as to how many subfamilies Reduviidae contain – numbers between 21 and 32 were proposed – or if taxa such as Elasmodeminae or Phymatinae are actually part of Reduviidae (Maldonado 1990; Putshkov and Putshkov 1990). We currently recognize 25 subfamilies (Weirauch et al. 2014), but this number and the concept of subfamilies will change pending a complete and long overdue reclassification of Reduviidae. Intriguingly, the monophyly of blood feeding Triatominae is still under dispute and several hypotheses propose the multiple origin of hematophagy within the group (Schofield 1988, Schofield and Dujardin 1997, Silva de Paula et al. 2005).

The morphology-based phylogenetic analysis by Weirauch (2008) supported the monophyly of Triatominae and revealed several new or poorly documented sister-groups such as those of Ectrichodiinae + Tribelocephalinae and Salyavatinae + Sphaeridopinae. The first molecular phylogenetic analyses across Reduviidae was published subsequently (Weirauch and Munro 2009) and this dataset more recently expanded to comprise 178 taxa (representing 18 subfamilies) and 5 genes (Hwang and Weirauch 2012). Hwang and Weirauch (2012) documented the extent of polyphyly of the subfamily Reduviinae (~11 distinct clades) and provided first insights into the evolutionary history of the group using divergence dating and ancestral state reconstructions of lifestyles. 

Reduviidae have recently entered the next-gen sequencing world: our analysis of Reduvioidea combined transcriptome data (23 taxa; 370 genes) with shallow ribosomal datasets (29 taxa) showed topologies congruent with prior analyses, but much increased branch support in particular along the "backbone" of Higher Reduviidae. The critical next steps toward a stable classification of Reduviidae and their small sister-taxon Pachynomidae are densely sampled and well-supported combined morphological and molecular analyses. 

Phylogenetic analyses of subgroups

As part of the Reduviid PEET project, we have extensively focused on phylogenetic relationships of subclades within the Reduvioidea that were mostly published as companion papers to our taxonomic monographs. Several analyses are now published or about to be published that focus on phylogenetic relationships of Harpactorinae and Bactrodinae (Zhang and Weirauch 2013, Zhang et al. 2016), Apiomerini (Forero et al. 2013; Forero and Weirrauch, in press), Salyavatinae and Sphaeridopinae (Gordon and Weirauch 2016), Ectrichodiinae and Tribelocephalinae (Forthman and Weirauch 2016, Forthman and Weirauch, in review), and Physoderinae (Hwang and Weirauch, in review).