Molecular Biology and Genetics

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Polystoechotidae

Polystoechotidae or giant lacewings are a small family of winged insects of the insect order Neuroptera. This family contains three living and seven extinct genera. The modern giant lacewings have a notably disjunct distribution while the extinct genera had a more global range. The family is considered one of the most primitive living neuropteran families. Along with the moth lacewings, giant lacewings may be phytophagous.

Description and ecology[edit]

Polystoechotidae are typically medium to large neuropterans that are similar in appearance to the related family Ithonidae.[1] P. S. Welch conducted research in 1914 on Polystoechotidae larvae resulted in the conclusion that the larvae were carnivorous.[2] Further study has shown the immature Polystoechotidae to be phytophagous. The first instar stage for modern larvae is a carabaeiform grub.[2]

Range[edit]

Palaeopsychops marringerae fossil, 50 million years old, Washington, USA

Modern Polystoechotidae genera are distributed solely in the western hemisphere with two species in the Nearctic and two in the Neotropical region. All four species inhabit ares with forested microthermal to lower mesothermal climates.[1] Polystoechotes has the widest modern range with P. punctatus inhabiting forests across North America south along the mountains to Panama and P. gazullai inhabiting forests in Central Chile. The North American range of P. punctatus has diminished, disappearing from eastern North America by the 1950s,[3] and now appears restricted to Western North America.[1] Platystoechotes lineatus, the sole species in Platystoechotes, is restricted in range to the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, USA.[1] The remaining modern species Fontecilla graphicus shares habitat with P. gazullai, also inhabiting forests in Central Chile. The paleorange for the family includes sites in western North America such as the Florrisant formation in Colorado and the Okanagan Highland sites in Washington, USA and British Columbia, Canada.[1] Species of the genus Palaeopsychops have been found in the Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark and genera from the Jurassic have been found in China, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan showing a wider geographic range then is found in the modern taxa.[1]

Systematics and taxonomy[edit]

Along with Ithonidae, Polystoechotidae are regarded as the most primitive living members of Neuroptera.[1] The clade formed by Polystoechotidae and Ithonidae forms a sister group to the remaining families in the suborder Hemerobiiformia.[2] The mitochondrial DNA for the species Polystoechotes punctatus was sequenced and the results published in 2009. The genome, consisting of 16,036 base pairs shows a large section of over 11,000 base pairs which are noncoding.[4] This region is found widely among members of Neuroptera but not in the close sister orders Raphidioptera or Megaloptera.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Archibald, S.B.; Makarkin V.N. (2006). "Tertiary Giant Lacewings (Neuroptera: Polystechotidae): Revision and Description of New Taxa From Western North America and Denmark". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 4 (2): 119–155. doi:10.1017/S1477201906001817. Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Grebennikov, V. (2004). "Grub-like larvae of Neuroptera (Insecta): a morphological review of the families Ithonidae and Polystoechotidae and a description of Oliarces clara". European Journal of Entomology 101: 409–417. doi:10.14411/eje.2004.056. Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
  3. ^ S. Marshall (2006). Insects: Their Natural History And Diversity: With a Photographic Guide to Insects of Eastern North America. Firefly Books. ISBN 978-1-55297-900-6. 
  4. ^ a b Beckenbach, A. T.; Stewart, J.B. (2009). "Insect mitochondrial genomics 3: the complete mitochondrial genome sequences of representatives from two neuropteroid orders: a dobsonfly (order Megaloptera) and a giant lacewing and an owlfly (order Neuroptera)". Genome 52 (1): 31–38. doi:10.1139/G08-098. Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
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