Evolution and phylogenetics of Horn Bugs hiding in plain sight

Supervisor: Prof. Gerry Cassis

 

SYNOPSIS

Horn bugs are a lineage of the hyperdiverse stink bug family Pentatomidae. Stink bugs are cosmopolitan in distribution and are known for their defensive and repugnant scents that are effective for deterring a broad range of predators.

There are about 6000 stink bug species worldwide, of which 350 are present in Australia, most of which are endemic to our continent.

This project will explore the evolution of one tribe of the Australian Horn Bugs – the Deroploini – which are best known for their extravagant processes on the head and thorax that mimic the thorns of their host plants.

AIMS

The student will work on a phylogenetic analysis of the Deroploini and analyse the evolution of the plant-mimicking processes.

STUDENT BENEFITS

The student will achieve the following benefits:

1) Undertake fieldwork

2) Learn how to undertake molecular lab work to derive gene sequences

3) Learn how to analyse phylogenetic relationships of Deroploini

4) Learn how to undertake trait evolution research

5) Describe new species

6) Publish a scientific paper