Meet the beetles—the Xyleborini of New Guinea

Dec 17, 2013
Xyleborini is a morphologically diverse tribe from New Guinea. Clockwise, starting from top left: Immanus acanthurus, Webbia pabo, Eccoptopterus spinosus (montane form), Cryptoxyleborus subnaevus, Coptodryas bella, and Amasa schlichi. Credit: Jiri Hulcr

Xyleborini is one of the most diverse and abundant groups of scolytine beetles worldwide, and they are also becoming very important invasive insect pests around the globe. In the U.S., the redbay beetle is threatening the existence of the avocado industry in Florida, and Asian ambrosia beetles are replacing native fauna throughout the southeastern U.S. and are attacking trees in nurseries. However, despite their economic importance, very few comprehensive monographic works deal with xyleborine beetles.

Now a new book published by the Entomological Society of America, Xyleborini of New Guinea, a Taxonomic Monograph (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), integrates the most comprehensive classification of Xyleborini with recent works to produce the first phylogenetic, fully character-based system. Authors Jiri Hulcr (University of Florida) and Anthony I. Cognato (Michigan State University) obtained representatives of almost all species known from Papua New Guinea and used DNA sequencing to test the generic classification of the group and, in some instances, species boundaries.

"This is probably the most invasive group of in the world," said Dr. Hulcr. "Xyleborinus saxesenii is as common in your backyard as it is in New Caledonia or Japan—and on top of that, many of them look like fuzzy teddy bears with big heads, big eyes, and pom-poms instead of antennae."

Besides their strange appearances, two other things set them apart from others. All of the species in the Xyleborini tribe are fungus farmers, and they are haplo-diploid inbreeders.

This is a Hadrodemius globus female and male -- the large, diploid female and the little haploid male (her brother) that will mate with her. Credit: Jiri Hulcr

"Xyleborini have one of the most fascinating and most prolific reproductive strategies in the animal kingdom," said Dr. Hulcr. "A female lays many female eggs and a single male egg. Then the male fertilizes all of his sisters, which go on to establish their own families. Thus, a single female has the ability to establish a whole new population on a newly colonized continent."

In addition to the book (ISBN: 978-0-9776209-7-5), two online resources are available as supplemental materials: (1) a comprehensive set of photographs of all available New Guinean Xyleborini species, and (2) a set of multiple-entry electronic keys for all genera and all recognized (available at http://www.ambrosiasymbiosis.org/PNG_Xyleborini).

Explore further: Telling the time of day by color

More information: For more information, and to purchase the book, visit www.entsoc.org/pubs/xyleborini-new-guinea-taxonomic-monograph

Related Stories

Spread of fungus-farming beetles is bad news for trees

Jul 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- North Carolina State University researchers have found that a subset of fungus-farming ambrosia beetles may be in the early stages of a global epidemic threatening a number of economically ...

Recommended for you

Telling the time of day by color

16 hours ago

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

Aphrodisiac for fish and frogs discovered

21 hours ago

A supplement simply added to water has been shown to boost reproduction in nematodes (roundworms), molluscs, fish and frogs – and researchers believe it could work for humans too.

Evolution puts checks on virgin births

22 hours ago

It seems unnatural that a species could survive without having sex. Yet over the ages, evolution has endowed females of certain species of amphibians, reptiles and fish with the ability to clone themselves, ...

Humans can't resist those puppy-dog eyes

Apr 16, 2015

When humans and their four-legged, furry best friends look into one another's eyes, there is biological evidence that their bond strengthens, researchers report.

Roundworm parasite targets canine eyes

Apr 16, 2015

(HealthDay)—A small number of dogs and cats across the United States have been infected by a roundworm parasite that targets the eye, according to a new report.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.