Meloid beetles are well characterised by both morphological and biological features. Previous phylogenetic hypotheses based on morphological characters assumed the repeated parallel evolution of complex biological novelties. In this work relationships among several taxa of the four subfamilies and almost all tribes representing meloid diversity are examined by using mitochondrial (16S) and nuclear (ITS2) DNA sequences, in 25 genera (using Anthicidae as outgroup). Secondary structure of 16S and ITS2 rRNAs were modelled. ITS2 structure represents a synapomorphic condition for the family and informative characters at the tribal level. Phylogenetic hypotheses based on separate and combined analysis of the 16S and ITS2 rDNA sequences, and morpho-biological characters were tested, and compared with previous morphological classifications. Molecular dating allowed an outline of the main steps of the evolutionary history of Meloidae, which evolved during Early Cretaceous and then radiated considerably with the adoption of hypermetaboly and parasitic behaviour, and with repeated, parallel evolution of larval phoresy on its hosts
Bologna, M.A., Oliverio, M., Pitzalis, M., Mariottini, P. (2008). Phylogeny and evolutionary history of the blister beetles (Coleoptera, Meloidae). MOLECULAR PHYLOGENETICS AND EVOLUTION, 48, 679-693 [10.1016/j.ympev.2008.04.019].