Molecular dating and biogeography of fig-pollinating wasps.Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2009 Sep; 52(3):715-26.MP
Figs and fig-pollinating wasps are obligate mutualists that have coevolved for over 60 million years. But when and where did pollinating fig wasps (Agaonidae) originate? Some studies suggest that agaonids arose in the Late Cretaceous and the current distribution of fig-wasp faunas can be explained by the break-up of the Gondwanan landmass. However, recent molecular-dating studies suggest divergence time estimates that are inconsistent with the Gondwanan vicariance hypothesis and imply that long distance oceanic dispersal could have been an important process for explaining the current distribution of both figs and fig wasps. Here, we use a combination of phylogenetic and biogeographical data to infer the age, the major period of diversification, and the geographic origin of pollinating fig wasps. Age estimates ranged widely depending on the molecular-dating method used and even when using the same method but with slightly different constraints, making it difficult to assess with certainty a Gondwanan origin of agaonids. The reconstruction of ancestral areas suggests that the most recent common ancestor of all extant fig-pollinating wasps was most likely Asian, although a southern Gondwana origin cannot be rejected. Our analysis also suggests that dispersal has played a more important role in the development of the fig-wasp biota than previously assumed.