Research Summary


My primary research interests surround the phylogenetic systematics and evolution of cynipoid wasps (Insecta, Hymenoptera, Cynipoidea), including phylogeny and historical biogeography of the so-called macrocynipoid wasps (Hymenoptera, Cynipoidea) parasitizing wood-boring insects, and the gall wasps and their inquilines belonging to the family Cynipidae. I use both morphological and molecular data in my studies. The reulting phylogenetic hypotheses are then used as bases for causal interpretation about the present patterns of geographical distribution and host association. To me, taxonomical work, including revisions and description of new species, is totally relevant to, and an important part of, modern biological systematics.

Images: Upper Left: female of Amphibolips trizonata, a species from northern Mexico and southern Arizona, US. It forms what we call "lime galls" on Emory oaks Quercus emoryi). Middle left: Gall of Callyrhitis seminator on white oaks, a relatively common species in northeastern USA (The picture here was taken in Missouri)

Lower left: "Plum gall" on acorn cup of shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) induced by the cynipine wasp Amphibolips prunus (Picture taken in Charleston, Illinois)

Stolamissus mirabilis, Liu & Engel, 2007, is a ca 90 millions old amber fossil specimen found in New Jersey deposit, recently described as new to science.

I am also keenly interested in the interactions between herbivores and their host plants. In an ongoing project I survey systems of gall-inducing cynipid wasps and their host plants to examine hypothesis about gall formation as a protection mechanism against natural enemies, especially parasitic wasps.

(Image on the left is a female parasitoid wasp trying to lay egg into a gall of Cynips sp.)

My Other Research Interests
Phylogeography &
Population Genetics
I am also very interested in genetic relationship among populations of species in local and regional scales, whether the study organism is a cynipoid wasp or not!
Other topics? Let's talk about it! -- A few words for prospective students
  My lab is mostly interested in addressing various questions in evolutionary biology, especially using molecular technology. You are welcome to bring in your own ideas as long as you can convince me that they are good. You are also encouraged to work on systems other than "my own", although you will need to be prepared and feel comfortable to work more independently in this case, and I will do my best to help you.
Simply fascinated & want to go galling? - A few words for the gall fanatics
  Watch out for field instructions for studying galls, as a hobby or as a way of making a living, in the near future. Before that, you can contact me by various means.

 


Selected Publications

  1. Li, B., Z. Liu, and Z.-M. Zheng. 2011 Phylogeny of Catantopidae represented in the Chinese fauna (Orthoptera: Acridoidea). ZooKeys (in press)
  2. Wang, Y-P, Z. Liu, X-X Chen. 2011 Study on eastern Palaearctic cynipid inquilines I – the genus Ceroptres Hartig, 1840 with descriptions of two new species (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae: Cynipinae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America (in press).
  3. Lu, P., D. Zhu, X. Yang, Z. Liu 2011. Phylogenetic relationship among gallwasps associated with host plants in the genus Castanea based on COI sequence data (in Chinese). Chinese Journal of Applied Entomology (in press)
  4. W. Beatty, Z. Liu, E. Latch, and T. Nelson. 2011. Genetic Assessment of the Red Squirrel in Illinois: Immigrants or Exotics? Journal of Wildlife Management, 75(5):1236–1242.
  5. Jutras, B. L., Z. Liu, C. A. Brissette. 2010. Simultaneous Isolation of Ixodidae and Bacterial (Borrelia spp.) Genomic DNA. Current Protocols in Microbiology, 19:1E.2.1-1E.2.11., John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  6. Liu, Z. & M. Engel. 2010. Baltic amber Ibaliidae (Hymenoptera: Cynipoidea): A new genus with implications for the phylogeny and historical biogeography of the family. Systematic Entomology, 35 (1): 164-171.
  7. Zhu, D., Y. Yang, & Z. Liu. 2009. Reversible change in embryonic diapause intensity by mild temperature in the Chinese rice grasshopper, Oxya chinensis. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 133:1-8.
  8. Crawford, J. C., Z. Liu, T. A. Nelson, C. K. Nielsen, and C. K. Bloomquist. (2009). Genetic population structure within and between beaver (Castor canadensis) populations in Illinois. Journal of Mammalogy, 90(2):373-379.
  9. Crawford, J. C., Z. Liu, T. A. Nelson, C. K. Nielsen, & C. K. Bloomquist. 2008. A Comparison of Field and Molecular Techniques for Sexing Beavers. Journal of Wildlife Management 72(8):1805–1807.
  10. Crawford, J.C., Z. Liu, T. A. Nelson, C. K. Nielsen, & C. K. Bloomquist.  (2008) Characterization of Microsatellite Loci in the Beaver (Castor canadensis).  Molecular Ecology Resources 3: 616 - 618.
  11. Crawford, J.C., Z. Liu, T. A. Nelson, C. K. Nielsen, & C. K. Bloomquist. (2008) Microsatellite analysis of mating and kinship in beavers (Castor canadensis).  Journal of Mammalogy 89(3): 575–581.
  12. Liu, Z., M. Engel, & D. Grimaldi (2007) Phylogeny and Geological History of the Cynipoid Wasps (Hymenoptera: Cynipoidea). Natural History Novitates,3583: 1-48.
  13. Liu, Z., Fredrik Ronquist, Göran Nordlander (2007) The cynipoid genus Paramblynotus : revision, phylogeny, and historical biogeography (Hymenoptera, Liopteridae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, no. 304: 1-151.
  14. Z. Liu, & Ronquist, F. (2006) Ch.98 Cynipidae, (In) Fernández F. & M.J. Sharkey (eds) Introducción a los Hymenoptera de la Región Neotropical, Serie Entomología Colombiana, Sociedad Colombiana de Entomología, Bogotá D.C., Colombia, p839-849. (In Spanish)
  15. Buffington, M., Z. Liu, & Ronquist, F. (2006) Ch.94 Cynipoidea, (In) Fernández F. & M.J. Sharkey (eds) Introducción a los Hymenoptera de la Región Neotropical, Serie Entomología Colombiana, Sociedad Colombiana de Entomología, Bogotá D.C., Colombia, p811-823. (In Spanish)
  16. Ronquist, F. & Z. Liu (2006) Ch.95 Ibaliidae, (In) Fernández F. & M.J. Sharkey (eds) Introducción a los Hymenoptera de la Región Neotropical, Serie Entomología Colombiana, Sociedad Colombiana de Entomología, Bogotá D.C., Colombia, p825-826. (In Spanish)
  17. Ronquist, F. & Z. Liu (2006) Ch.96 Liopteridae, (In) Fernández F. & M.J. Sharkey (eds) Introducción a los Hymenoptera de la Región Neotropical, Serie Entomología Colombiana, Sociedad Colombiana de Entomología, Bogotá D.C., Colombia, p827-828. (In Spanish)
  18. Nylander, J. A. A., M. L. Buffington, Z. Liu, J. L. Nieves-Aldrey, J. Liljeblad, and F. Ronquist. 2004. Molecular phylogeny and evolution of gallwasps. Pp. 1-40 in J. A. Nylander, ed. Bayesian Phylogenetics and the Evolution of Gallwasps, Uppsala, Sweden.
  19. Liu, Z. (2004) A new species of Xestophanes Förster from Azerbaijan (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 106: 779-783.
  20. Schick, K., Z. Liu , & P. Z. Goldstein (2003) Phylogeny and evolution of host plant association of Diastrophus gall wasps (Hymenoptera, Cynipidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington , 105: 715-732.
  21. Liu, Z. (2001) Phylogeny, biogeography, and revision of the subfamily Dallatorrellinae (Hymenoptera: Liopteridae). Natural History Novitates, No. 3353., p.23., 44 figures.
  22. Liu, Z. & H. Bonfil (2001) Differential performance of a Contarinia gall midge (Cecidomyiidae, Diptera) on ant-defended Acacia cornigera . Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington , 103 (2), pp.376-385.
  23. Liu, Z. (1999) A new species of Ibalia from Borneo, with a revised phylogeny and historical biogeography of Ibaliidae (Hymenoptera: Cynipoidea). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 7(2):149-156.
  24. Liu, Z. (1998) Phylogenetic systematics and historical biogeography of macrocynipoids parasitizing wood-boring insects. Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae, Silvestria No.62: 26 pages (Ph. D. thesis).
  25. Eubanks, M., Nesci, K., Petersen, M., Liu, Z., & H. Bonfil (1997) The exploitation of an ant-defended host plant by a shelter-building herbivore. Oecologia 109:454-460.
  26. Nordlander, G., Liu, Z., & Ronquist, F. (1996) Phylogeny and Biogeography of the family Ibaliidae (Hymenoptera: Cynipoidea). Systematic Entomology . 21:151-166.
  27. Liu, Z., & Larsson, S. (1996) The relationship between a flower gall midge Pseudasphondylia sp. (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) and host plant Actinidia valvata . Entomologia Sinica, 3(3):271-282.
  28. Liu, Z. & Li, B. (1995) A new genus and two new species of Catantopidae from Hunan Province, China (Orthoptera: Acridoidea), Entomologia Sinica 2(2):104-109.
  29. Liu, Z. & Nordlander, G. (1994) Review of the family Ibaliidae (Hymenoptera: Cynipoidea) with keys to genera and species of the world. Entomologica Scandinavica 25:377-392.
  30. Liu, Z. & Nordlander, G. (1992) Ibaliidae parasitoids of Siricidae in North America: two new species from SW United States and a key to species (Hymenoptera: Cynipoidea). Proc. Entom. Soc. Wash. 94(4):500-507.

 

Recent Grants 

  1. 2008. PCR Identification of Wolbachia symbionts in gall making Cynipidae wasps and the effects of such symbionts on wasp reproduction. Chinese National Science Foundation. (350,000 Chinese Yuan, equivalent of ca US$50,000) (Co-PI with Dr Daohong Zhu of Central South University of Forestry and Technology).
  2. 2008. A study of the early evolution of cynipoid wasps and origin of gall formation based on new fossil discoveries. EIU Counsel of Faculty Research 2008 Summer Research Award ($4,000)
  3. 2007, FY2007 Research Seed Grant, College of Science, Eastern Illinois University ($1,000)
  4. 2006, Monogamy in North American Beaver: Using DNA Fingerprinting to solve an old mystery,  EIU Council on Faculty Research Award ($4,230)
  5. 2006, Is Antistrophus silphii endangered? – Preliminary field survey of a rare gall wasp in Illinois, , Illinois Department of Natural Resources ($2,000) (Co-PI Dr G. Tucker)
  6. 2006, Design microsatellite markers for investigation of beaver social organization in central south Illinois, Graduate School Summer Research Assistantship, Eastern Illinois University (ca $1,300, with Thomas A. Nelson)
  7. 2005 FY2006 Study on mechanism of gall formation using cDNA microarray, EIU Council on Faculty Research Award ($2,700)
  8. 2005, Variation of parasitism in cynipids induced galls, EIU Summer Research Award ($4,000)
  9. 2005, Redden Fund Award (toward the purchase of Sequencher) ($1,500)
  10. 2005, Ecology and Genetics of red squirrels in Illinois, Illinois Department of Natural Resources ($170,000) (Co-PI with Dr. T. Nelson)
  11. 2005, Gall wasp species diversity in the prairies of central and southern Illinois, Illinois Department of Natural Resources ($1,968)
  12. 2005, Study of Beaver Social Organization in central south Illinois using DNA typing, Graduate School Summer Research Assistantship, Eastern Illinois University (ca $1,300, with Thomas A. Nelson)
  13. 2005, FY2005 Research Seed Grant, College of Science, Eastern Illinois University ($1,000)
  14. 2004, FY2005 Council on Faculty Research Award (Molecular phylogeny and evolution of host association of oak gall wasps), Eastern Illinois University ($4,588)

 


Dept. of Biological Sciences EIU Masters in Biology