09 October 2009

In the Year of Darwin, Darwin Core Standard Ratified!

The TDWG Executive Committee announces the official ratification of Darwin

Core (http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/index.htm) as a TDWG standard.

Darwin Core joins four other TDWG standards- http://www.tdwg.org/standards/

that provide a reference for sharing information about biodiversity. Lead

author, John Wieczorek, and his co-authors, Markus Döring, Renato de

Giovanni, Tim Robertson, and Dave Vieglais have done an amazing job in

writing, organizing, and dealing with feedback during the review process. We

can only have a small insight into the effort that John and his team have

invested in Darwin Core.

We also appreciate the work that Gail Kampmeier has done as Review Manager

since her appointment in February 2009. There was an initial peer review

followed by two months of public review, punctuated by ongoing discussions

and periodic updating of the draft standard now being ratified by the TDWG

Executive Committee.

John, Markus, Renato, Tim, Dave and Gail deserve contributions of good

French wine in Montpellier! Thank you and congratulations to all who


Donald Hobern, Chairman, TDWG.

24 September 2009

Naming Genes: What's in a Name?

In 1594, Juliet asserted in Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" and certainly words have layers of meanings and associations that not only Shakespeare could devise. And so it is with those naming genes, on the forefront of which are those looking at fly genes, particularly of Drosophila in FlyBase. In this delightful report from the BBC World Service's Discovery, we find out what these scientists are really thinking about as they sort through piles of flies, looking for visual verification of potential genetic anomalies: how might they name their next big discovery. Traditions are born in various laboratories for the sometimes quirky, usually informative names bestowed upon new discoveries--will the gene naming equivalant of the Académie française clamp down on this populist movement? The fly geneticists say no!

Thanks to Karyla for this great find!!

21 September 2009

7th International Congress of Dipterology

The first announcement for the 7th International Congress of Dipterology (or IDC7 for short) was just released and the venue and program promise to be spectacular! The Congress Chairman, FLYTREE's own David Yeates, welcomes conferees to the first Diptera Congress in Latin America, from 8-13 August in San Jose, Costa Rica. Manuel Zumbado chairs the organizing committee for this event that will draw those interested in flies from across the globe.

13 July 2009

FLYTREE scientists identify the closest relatives of the flies!

FLYTREE scientists resolve holometabolan insect phylogeny and identify the closest relatives of the Diptera

Wiegmann, B. M., M D. Trautwein, J. Kim, M. Bertone, S. L. Winterton, B. K. Cassel, and D. K. Yeates. (2009). Single-copy nuclear genes resolve the phylogeny of the holometabolous insect orders. BMC Biology 7:34.http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/7/34

A new paper published this month by FLYTREE ATOL scientists proposes a new phylogeny among the holometabolous insect orders and places Diptera as sister group to the Mecoptera  + Siphonaptera.  

Combined nucleotide data from 6 nuclear genes provides strong evidence for an early split between Hymenoptera and all other Holometabola and places the Strepsiptera as sister group to beetles (Coleoptera), arguing against previous molecular and developmental hypotheses.

These new data are used to estimates the evoutionary age of splits among the major insect orders including Diptera.. which had their origin in the Permian or earliest Triassic approximately 255 mya.

These exciting results are featured on the 'front page' of BMC Biology and are accompanied by an essay by Dr. Alessandro Minelli on the importance of robust phylogenetic understanding for accurate interpretation of developmental pathways and patterns.

17 June 2009

Supertrees & the Tree of Life

Just published in Invertebrate Systematics is the journal's featured paper:

Lambkin C.L., Trueman J.W.H., Yeates D.K., Holston K.C., Webb D.W., Hauser M., Metz M.A., Hill H.N., Skevington J.H., Yang L., Irwin M.E., Wiegmann B.M. (2009) Supertrees and the Tree of Life: generating a metaphylogeny for a diverse invertebrate family (Insecta : Diptera : Therevidae) using constraint trees and the parsimony ratchet to overcome low taxon overlap. Invertebrate Systematics 23, 171–191.

See the abstract at http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/120/paper/IS08035.htm and don't forget to also check out the beautiful cover of this issue, which sports J. Marie Metz's amazing illustration of a xestomyzine therevid, Henicomyia sp., from Guatemala.

Contact Christine.LambkinATqm.qld.gov.au for a copy of this landmark paper.

06 May 2009

Milichiid flies caught mugging ants

Who knew flies could be thugs? Once again, Alex Wild has caught flies in the act, this time robbing ants of their food in Kwazulu-Natal. Read the details and see the marvelous photography in this blog post, which features FLYTREE collaborator, Irina Brake, as the Milichiidae expert!

13 April 2009

Phorid Flies Provide Death from the Skies

Featured in ScienceBlog's first monthly rotating photo blog, Photo Synthesis, is Alex Wild, whose photography of the insect world, and ants in particular is worthy of insect centerfolds. In this particular entry, he captures phorid flies (Pseudacteon sp.) trolling a fire ant colony for a candidate whose head will roll...

18 March 2009

Diptera Diversity: Status, Challenges and Tools

Published today, this new 460 page book, Diptera Diversity: Status, Challenges and Tools was edited by Thomas Pape, Daniel Bickel, and Rudolf Meier and features chapters by many of the FLYTREE principal investigators and collaborators. The concept for this much anticipated book grew out of the 2002 International Congress of Dipterology in Brisbane, Australia. It features sections on regional diversity of Diptera fauna; case studies, ecological approaches & estimation; and bioinformatics and dipteran diversity (pdf of table of contents).

12 March 2009

Drosophila or Sophophora?

"One interesting high impact dipterological discussion popping up on science news sites is the nomenclatural snafu that is Drosophila melanogaster. In a sentence, if melanogaster Meigen was not a model organism but still was part of a modern systematic revision, it would not be in the genus Drosophila." ...

So begins a post by Keith Bayless in the excellent North Carolina State Insect Museum blog. Check out the rest of the article about this controversy of one of the work horses of the arthropod world!

2009 Field Meeting of the North American Dipterists Society

Mark your calendars for the 2009 NADS Field Meeting! The Meeting will be held from 1-4 June 2009, based in Crescent City, California, organized by Peter Kerr and the rest of the dipterists (Steve Gaimari, Martin Hauser, Alessandra Rung) at the California Department of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento. Laboratory and presentation facilities will be provided by The College of the Redwoods, Del Norte campus, in Crescent City. Participants making flight arrangements are advised to fly into Arcata, CA (ACV; 1 hour south of Crescent City), Medford, Oregon (MFR; 2 hours northeast of Crescent City), or Eugene, Oregon (EUG; 4 hours north of Crescent City), then arrange for a rental car. Crescent City is approximately 6 hours north of San Francisco, California. The area is surrounded by a number of protected areas including Tolowa Dunes State Park, Lake Earl State Wildlife Area, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Contact the organizers (below) for details about accommodations. The meeting registration fee is $20/person, and $10/accompanying person if they will be attending group functions. Please contact Peter Kerr (pkerr@cdfa.ca.gov) or Steve Gaimari (sgaimari@cdfa.ca.gov) as soon as possible if you intend to come to the Meeting, and if you would like to give a presentation on current research topics or activities involving Diptera. We hope for a lively set of presentations, as well as fantastic collecting in this beautiful part of California! More details will be given in the April issue of Fly Times, but by then time will be tight!