Effort clarifies major branch of insect tree of life

29 11 2018
Alexey Kozlov, CME group (Photo: HITS)

A team of international researchers just published a new study on Hemiptera, using a vast amount molecular data to investigate their evolutionary history of more than 350 million years. An important part of the study was the reconstruction of the phylogenetic trees with a tool developed in the Scientific Computing group at HITS, Heidelberg. The reconstruction was performed on the supercomputer SuperMUC in Garching near Munich.A team of international researchers just published a new study on Hemiptera, using a vast amount molecular data to investigate their evolutionary history of more than 350 million years. An important part of the study was the reconstruction of the phylogenetic trees with a tool developed in the Scientific Computing group at HITS, Heidelberg. The reconstruction was performed on the supercomputer SuperMUC in Garching near Munich.

Hemiptera insects include fierce creatures such as stink bugs, bed bugs, scale insects and aphids.  With a massive number of species, two-thirds of which are still unknown to science, members of this insect group make up one of the twiggiest branches of the tree of life.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) collected a vast amount of molecular data on these insects and used the information to help tease out their family relationships and evolutionary history. The findings – and the data, which are now publicly available – will aid future research into some of the most abundant and economically important insects on the planet, the researchers said.

The study was led by Kevin Johnson and Christopher Dietrich from the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), USA. The researchers analyzed nearly 2,400 protein-coding genes, their expression in the form of messenger RNA and the resulting amino-acid sequences. It was a massive effort involving collaborators in China, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and across the United States. Alexey Kozlov (Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, HITS) contributed the reconstruction of the phylogenetic trees, using the ExaML tool developed in the Scientific Computing group at HITS. The reconstruction was performed on the SuperMUC, a supercomputer at the Leibniz Computing Center in Garching near München.

For the whole story, see the INHS press release

HITS Scientific contact:
Alexey Kozlov
Alexey.kozlov@h-its.org
wwwold.h-its.org

Press Contact
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HITS Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies
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About HITS

The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.

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