Psyllid evolution and data

The carrot psyllid, Bactericera trigonica

Project summary

  • Focus: Collating global databases of psyllid and analysing patterns of psyllid and host-plant evolution
  • Funding: Indexing for Life

Psylloidea evolution

Each species of psyllid, or jumping plant louse, feeds on a particular type of plant. Sometimes, a psyllid species feeds only on one species of plant, but more often it is limited to one genus of plant. Many are major crop and ornamental pests.

When plants diversify, psyllids are good at adapting to those changes: they are highly effective at tracking diversification within particular host plant groups. However, psyllids do not seem to be undergoing cospeciation with their hosts.

Using the Psyl'list database, we will analyse patterns of global psyllid-host plant associations. We can then see whether smaller patterns in particular psyllid lineages or biogeographic regions can be extrapolated across the Psylloidea.

Undetermined Diaphorina species (psyllid) from Madagascar


Psyl’list: the World Psylloidea Database

Psyl'list is an online taxonomic database for the world's jumping plant lice. Each entry contains, where available:

  • full taxonomy (valid names and synonyms)
  • host plants
  • endosymbionts
  • parasites
  • predators
  • geographical distribution

We continually update the database. We recently added 393 species of Chinese fauna and updated the higher classification scheme to reflect the latest revision of the family- and genus-group names.

The Psyl'list database is worldwide in scale and contains virtually all of the published host-plant associations. We are analysing this data using two methods:

  • Phylogenetic mapping: mapping of the psyllid genera onto the better-known genus-level plant phylogeny. This will show the distribution of the psyllid host-plant taxa across the plant tree.
  • Network analysis: direct analysis of the network of associations through visualisation and exploration.

Building the database

Data are entered using the free DataBase To Names and Taxa (DBTNT) software which allows dynamic navigation of online records.

The Museum's specimens are used to complete listings of valid species.

The distribution of each species is mapped using the EDIT Map REST Service, and follows the Taxonomic Databases for Plant Sciences standard World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions levels 3 and 4.

Museum staff

External collaborators

Funded by

Biodiversity research

We are creating molecular and digital tools to explore undiscovered biodiversity

Insect research

Our scientists are conserving and investigating the Museum's collections to help with cutting edge research

Entomology collections

Browse the oldest entomology collection in the world of over 34 million insects and arachnids