Bee flowers drive macroevolutionary diversification in long-horned bees

Achik Dorchin*, Anat Shafir, Frank H. Neumann, Dafna Langgut, Nicolas J. Vereecken, Itay Mayrose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of plant-pollinator interactions in the rapid radiation of the angiosperms have long fascinated evolutionary biologists. Studies have brought evidence for pollinator-driven diversification of various plant lineages, particularly plants with specialized flowers and concealed rewards. By contrast, little is known about how this crucial interaction has shaped macroevolutionary patterns of floral visitors. In particular, there is currently no empirical evidence that floral host association has increased diversification in bees, the most prominent group of floral visitors that essentially rely on angiosperm pollen. In this study, we examine how floral host preference influenced diversification in eucerine bees (Apidae, Eucerini), which exhibit large variations in their floral associations. We combine quantitative pollen analyses with a recently proposed phylogenetic hypothesis, and use a state speciation and extinction probabilistic approach. Using this framework, we provide the first evidence that multiple evolutionary transitions from host plants with accessible pollen to restricted pollen from 'bee-flowers' have significantly increased the diversification of a bee clade. We suggest that exploiting host plants with restricted pollen has allowed the exploitation of a new ecological niche for eucerine bees and contributed both to their colonization of vast regions of the world and their rapid diversification.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20210533
Pages (from-to)307-326
Number of pages20
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1959
StatePublished - 2021


FundersFunder number
Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics
Vatat Training
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Tel Aviv University


    • bee diversification
    • floral host shift
    • floral reward
    • plant-insect interactions
    • pollen specialization
    • zygomorphic flowers


    Dive into the research topics of 'Bee flowers drive macroevolutionary diversification in long-horned bees'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this