Western Kentucky University

Research Projects

Photograph: Philips Lab, 2010


REU Project 4—Molecular phylogenetic studies of the bostrichoid beetles—Dr. T. Keith Philips, Biology Department


The families in the Bostrichoidea include many timber pests (mainly bostrichids) and food pests (mainly anobiids and ptinids). This diverse group contains elongate-bodied wood borers, dung feeders with globular bodies that are covered with setae of various colors, shapes and densities and pronota, often with strangely shaped cavities. Rampant convergent evolution in groups with similar lifestyles has made attempts at classification unnatural and hence unpredictive. The molecular phylogeny of the Bostrichoidea project will use DNA sequence data from four genes (16s, 18s, 28s and CO1) and will clarify relationships within and among all of the families of this clade of beetles. Material to study the evolution of Bostrichoidea will be gathered via ongoing trapping programs and through collaborators who have sent or will send material to WKU from locations around the world. This proposal will enable students to learn all aspects of molecular systematic work, including extraction, amplification, purification, and sequencing of DNA. Additionally, tree building software will be used by the students to construct hypotheses of evolution. Lastly, students will investigate methods such as the r8s program that can be used to assess and estimate molecular evolution and divergence times. The dispersal-vicariance analysis (DIVA) program will also be examined as a means to hypothesize ancestral taxon distributions of this fascinating group of beetles.


Related Publications:

  1. DeWildt, C.S.*, T.K. Philips and H. Davis. Survey of the insects found in the caves of Ghana. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies. Accepted (200x);
  2. Akotsen-Mensah, C.* and T.K. Philips. Description of a new genus of spider beetle (Coleoptera: Ptinidae) from South Africa. Zootaxa. 2160: 51–67 (2009);
  3. Ocampo, F.C.* and T.K. Philips. Food relocation and nesting behavior of the Ar-gentinian dung beetle genus Eucranium Brullé and comparison with the southwest African Scarabaeus (Pachysoma) (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae). Revista de la Sociedad Entomologica Argentina 64: 53-59 (2005);
  4. Forgie, S.A.*, T.K. Philips and C.H. Scholtz. Evolution of the Scarabaeini (Scara-baeidae: Scarabaeinae). Systematic Entomology 30: 60-96 (2004);
  5. Philips, T.K. and D.E. Foster.* Cryptopeniculus nigrosetus n.g., n.sp. (Coleoptera: Ptinidae) from the Namaqualand region of South Africa. Zootaxa 577: 1-11 (2004);
  6. Philips, T.K., R. Pretorius,* and C.H. Scholtz. A phylogenetic analysis of the dung beetles: (Scarabaeinae: Scarabaeidae): Unrolling an evolutionary history. Invertebrate Syst. 18: 1-36 (2004).

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 Last Modified 7/22/13