Intron insertion as a phylogenetic character: the engrailed homeobox of Strepsiptera does not indicate affinity with Diptera.
Rokas A., Kathirithamby J., Holland PW.
The phylogenetic relationships of the order Strepsiptera are unclear. Affiliation to Coleoptera has been proposed, however this implies that dipteran halteres and strep-sipteran haltere-like organs evolved convergently. An alternative is a sister group relationship with Diptera. In this case, halteres could be homologous but a radical homeotic mutation may have switched their position to the Strepsipteran mesothorax. Ribosomal DNA sequence analysis has been used to support Dipteran affiliation, although this is controversial. Here we investigate the potential of an intron insertion site as a phylogenetic character. We find that the en homeobox gene of the strepsipteran Stichotrema dallatorreanum lacks a derived intron insertion shared by representatives of Diptera and Lepidoptera. We argue against a close affiliation between Strepsiptera and Diptera.