• Molecular Systematics and Traits Evolution in Phasmatodea Leach, 1815 (Hexapoda; Insecta)
  • Forni, Giobbe <1988>


  • BIO/05 Zoologia


  • Phasmatodea Leach, 1815 (Hexapoda; Insecta) is a polyneopteran order which counts approximately 3000 described species, often known for their remarkable forms of mimicry. In this thesis, I provide a comprehensive systematic framework which includes over 180 species never considered in a phylogenetic framework: the latter can facilitate a better understanding of the processes underlying phasmids evolutionary history. The clade represents in fact an incredible testing ground to study trait evolution and its striking disparity of reproductive strategies and wing morphologies have been of great interest to the evolutionary biology community. Phasmids wings represent one of the first and most notable rejection of Dollo’s law and they played a central role in initiating a long- standing debate on the irreversibility of complex traits loss. Macroevolutionary analyses presented here confirm that wings evolution in phasmids is a reversible process even when possible biases - such as systematic uncertainty and trait-dependent diversification rates - are considered. These findings remark how complex traits can evolve in a dynamic, reversible manner and imply that their molecular groundplan can be preserved despite its phenotypical absence. This concept has been further tested with phylogenetic and transcriptomic approaches in two phasmids parthenogenetic lineages and a bisexual congeneric of the European Bacillus species complex. Leveraging a gene co-expression network approach, male gonad associated genes were retrieved in the bisexual species and then their modifications in the parthenogens were charachterized. Pleiotropy appears to constrain gene modifications associated to male reproductive structures after their loss in parthenogens, so that the lost trait molecular groundplan can be largely preserved in both transcription patterns and sequence evolution. Overall, the results presented in this thesis contribute to shape our understanding of the interplay between the phenotypic and molecular levels in trait evolution.


  • 2021-05-21
  • info:eu-repo/date/embargoEnd/2023-06-01


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Forni, Giobbe (2021) Molecular Systematics and Traits Evolution in Phasmatodea Leach, 1815 (Hexapoda; Insecta), [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze della terra, della vita e dell'ambiente , 33 Ciclo.