More than half of all known species are insects. The hemipteroid insects, which include true bugs, leafhoppers, aphids, thrips, and parasitic lice, comprise over 120,000 described species, about 12% of insect diversity. This group of insects contains many species of crop pests as well as human disease vectors. The goals of this project are to understand the family tree of relationships for the hemipteroids by sampling 170 target species covering the diversity of this group. Data for analysis will include over 1000 genes sequenced from complete genomes and a large morphological data set of over 300 characters.
This project is scientifically important because there is little consensus regarding the family level taxonomic relationships of this group of insects. The large amount of data collected in the course of this project should conclusively solve this problem. The findings will also have considerable broader significance. For example, data from the genomes of these insects may reveal new strategies for control of the crop pest insects included in the study. This project will also include training for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral researchers. Public outreach activities will include a Tree of Life display for a Mobile Science Center and Bug ID cards.