Molecular evidence of cycad seed predation by immature Aulacoscelidinae (Coleoptera: Orsodacnidae)


Adult beetles in the small subfamily Aulacoscelidinae (superfamily Chrysomeloidea) are known to feed on the foliage and juices of New World cycads (Order Cycadales; family Zamiaceae), but the habits of larvae have long remained a mystery. We provide the first direct evidence that Aulacoscelidinae larvae feed on and develop within the megagametophyte of the Mesoamerican cycad, Dioon merolae (Zamiaceae). Phylogenetic analyses based on partial DNA sequences from 3 genes recover a cycad seed-feeding larva proposed to belong to Aulacoscelidinae. These observations reveal a more intimate feeding relationship between Aulacoscelidinae and their New World cycad host plants than was previously recognized. Further, adult Aulacoscelidinae have long been noted to resemble Jurassic fossil chrysomeloids in the extinct subfamily Protoscelidinae. The molecular, morphological, ecological and fossil data reported herein are broadly compatible with an early association between Aulacoscelidinae and their gymnosperm hosts. Published 2012. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Publication Title

Systematic Entomology