Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New parasitic wasps - Crocodile Dundee and Toblerone

Qrocodiledundee outbackense - Credit Jose Fernandez-Triana
A whooping 17 new genera and 29 new species of parasitoid wasps from around the globe were recently described from specimens at the Canadian National Collection of insects in Ottawa. The new species came from the tropics, including the Afrotropical, Australasian, Neotropical and the Oriental region. The lead author, Dr Jose Fernandez-Triana, colleague and friend, is a world renowned expert of the wasps and with his colleague Caroline Boudreault he published a monograph on these species.

Reported from the Australasian region, the genus Qrocodiledundee is not only a reference to the famous Australian comedy 'Crocodile Dundee', which also happens to be a favourite of the lead author,  but also refers to his own nickname. In the past, he used to track down and catch crocodiles for scientific study, and was even bitten by one, much like the fictional character played by Paul Hogan. The species name 'outbackense' refers to the Outback, the vast and remote interior of Australia.

Another favourite of the first author, the chocolate brand 'Toblerone' was used to generate the genus name Tobleronius. A segment in the midsection of the bodies of the wasps resembles the triangle pieces the chocolate brand is known for.

For the experts: As part of comprehensive studies on the world fauna of microgastrine parasitoid wasps (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) 17 new genera and 29 new species are described from the Afrotropical, Australasian, Neotropical and Oriental regions. The number of extant genera of Microgastrinae is increased by 21% and currently stands at 81. It is anticipated that more genera will be described in the near future, when phylogenetic studies of the group are advanced. The new taxa showcase unusual morphological traits such as atypical head and mouth part modifications, presence of partial occipital and epicnemial carinae, propodeum carination patterns, hind wing venation, trochantellus shape, tarsal claws, sculpture and shape of the first two metasomal tergites, and ovipositor teeth; in some cases, they also represent some of the largest species known in the subfamily. For every new genus putative autapomorphies, morphological diagnostic features, and DNA barcodes (whenever available) are presented, as well as brief discussions of some informal groupings of genera in the subfamily. However, no attempt is made to reassess the phylogeny of the entire Microgastrinae, as that will require more comprehensive analyses beyond the scope of the present work. The following 17 gen. n., authored by Fernandez-Triana, are described: Agupta, Austinicotesia, Billmasonius, Carlmuesebeckius, Gilbertnixonius, Janhalacaste, Jenopappius, Jimwhitfieldius, Kotenkosius, Markshawius, Ohenri, Qrocodiledundee, Silvaspinosus, Tobleronius, Ungunicus, Ypsilonigaster and Zachterbergius. The following 29 sp. n., authored by Fernandez-Triana and Boudreault, are described: Agupta danyi, Agupta jeanphilippei, Agupta raymondi, Agupta solangeae, Austinicotesia indonesiensis, Austinicotesia papuanus, Billmasonius cienci, Carlmuesebeckius smithsonian, Gilbertnixonius biem, Janhalacaste danieli, Janhalacaste guanacastensis, Janhalacaste winnieae, Jenopappius magyarmuzeum, Jimwhitfieldius jamesi, Jimwhitfieldius sydneyae, Kotenkosius tricarinatus, Markshawius erucidoctus, Markshawius francescae, Markshawius thailandensis, Ohenri gouletorum, Qrocodiledundee outbackense, Silvaspinosus vespa, Tobleronius orientalis, Ungunicus vietnamensis, Ypsilonigaster naturalis, Ypsilonigaster sharkeyi, Ypsilonigaster tiger, Ypsilonigaster zuparkoi, and Zachterbergius tenuitergum. The following four comb. n. are proposed: Jenopappius niger (de Saeger, 1944), Jenopappius aethiopica (de Saeger, 1944), Ypsilonigaster bumbana (de Saeger, 1942), and Ypsilonigaster pteroloba (de Saeger, 1944).

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