Kaminski Lab: Systematic Entomology

Phylogenetics, Museomics, Tenebrionidae, Blaptinae, Platynotini, Sepidiini

WELCOME to our lab!

We're the Systematic Entomology group of Marcin Kaminski.

We are investigating the evolutionary history of species, genera, and higher-level lineages using genetic and morphological approaches, with a strict focus on darkling beetles (Tenebrionidae). We are specifically interested in investigating phylogenetic relationships among the subfamily Blaptinae, on which we published over 30 scientific publications. In our current NCN-funded project we incorporate the techniques of museomics (TE) and comparative morphology (traditional data, SEM, micro-CT) to illuminate the phylogeny and historical biogeography of the tribe Platynotini.


We are part of the Zoological Museum of the Museum and Institute of Zoology PAS (Warsaw, Poland). We collaborate with a variety of research groups all around the world (see Publications). However, our strategic collaborator is the Aaron Smith Insect Biodiversity Lab (Purdue University).


December 22 2021

New article alert:

  1. Kamiński, M.J., Lumen, R., Müller, R., Kanda, K., Robiche, G., Smith A.D. 2021. Illustrated catalog of the subtribe Helopinina Latreille (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae: Blaptinae). The Coleopterists Bulletin, 75(3): 537–578. https://doi.org/10.1649/0010-065X-75.3.537

  2. Ivie, M.A., Aalbu, R., Barclay, M.V.L., Johnston, M.A., Kamiński, M.J., Kanda, K., Iwan, D. 2021. Placement of the orphan genus Asiopus Sharp, 1891 (Tenebrionidae: Adelini/Platynotini) and the synonymy of Alaetrinus Iwan, 1995. The Coleopterists Bulletin, 75(3): 594–598. https://doi.org/10.1649/0010-065X-75.3.594

Cheers, Marcin & Ryan

November 30 2021

New article alert:

Kamiński, M. J., Smith, A. D., Kanda, K., Iwan, D., & Kergoat, G. J. (2021). Old origin for an European-African amphitropical disjunction pattern: New insights from a case study on wingless darkling beetles. Journal of Biogeography, 00, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14288

Link to the publication:


Cheers, Marcin

Abstract.- The origin of the amphitropic Mediterranean Basin and southern African disjunction (European–African amphitropical disjunction; EAAD) pattern is generally attributed to recent dispersal events. However, our knowledge is limited because the origin of the EAAD pattern has been almost exclusively studied in plants. Here, we investigate the origin of this wide-ranging disjunction pattern in a group of wingless insects, consisting of two major clades, both of which have EAAD distributions.

October 8 2021

New article alert:

Kamiński, M. J., Bouchard, P., Leo, P., Iwan, D., 2021. On the type species of the genus Dendarus Dejean, 1821 (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). Zootaxa, 5048, 575–580.

Link to the publication:


Cheers, Marcin

Abstract.- Based on type specimen investigation, the status of Helops tristis Rossi, 1790 as the type species of the genus Dendarus Dejean, 1821 is confirmed. Lectotypes are designated for Helops tristis and Pandarus coarcticollis Mulsant, 1854 – both are classified in Dendarus. Pandarus libanicus Desbrochers des Loges, 1881 is recognised as a junior synonym of Dendarus calcaratus Baudi di Selve, 1881. Both taxa share the same locus typicus (Mount Lebanon in Lebanon) and are morphologically distinct from the Italian Dendarus lugens (Mulsant & Rey, 1854). Finally, D. lugens is considered as a synonym of D. (Dendarus) coarcticollis.

July 7 2021

New article alert:

Iwan, D., Daszkiewicz, P., Kamiński, M. J. 2021. Rediscovery of the type specimens of Strix aluco volhyniae Dunajewski, 1948. Annales Zoologici, 71: 399–404.

Link to the publication:


Cheers, Marcin

Abstract.- This paper reports the rediscovery of the type specimens (holotype and paratype) of Strix aluco volhyniae Dunajewski, 1948, a junior synonym of Strix aluco aluco Linnaeus, 1758. Previously thought to have been destroyed during the Second World War, the types were found in the collection of the Museum and Institute of Zoology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Additionally, this paper provides support for the availability of the name Strix aluco volhyniae, which was initially proposed as a new race.

June 19 2021

New article alert:

Smith A.D., Kamiński M.J., Kanda K., Sweet, A.D., Betancourt J.L., Holmgren C.A., Hempel E., Alberti F., Hofreiter, M. 2021. Recovery and analysis of ancient beetle DNA from subfossil packrat middens using high-throughput sequencing. Scientific Reports

Link to the publication:


Cheers, Marcin

Abstract.- The study of ancient DNA is revolutionizing our understanding of paleo-ecology and the evolutionary history of species. Insects are essential components in many ecosystems and constitute the most diverse group of animals. Yet they are largely neglected in ancient DNA studies. We report the results of the first targeted investigation of insect ancient DNA to positively identify subfossil insects to species, which includes the recovery of endogenous content from samples as old as ~34,355 ybp. Potential inhibitors currently limiting widespread research on insect ancient DNA are discussed, including the lack of closely related genomic reference sequences (decreased mapping efficiency) and the need for more extensive collaborations with insect taxonomists. The advantages of insect-based studies are also highlighted, especially in the context of understanding past climate change. In this regard, insect remains from ancient packrat middens are a rich and largely uninvestigated resource for exploring paleo-ecology and species dynamics over time.

PhD Student position at MIZ PAN available starting October 2021

Funding source: National Science Center grant OPUS-19 nr UMO-2020/37/B/NZ8/02496 "High-throughput DNA sequencing on historical collections of beetles: phylogenetic studies among Platynotini (Tenebrionidae)"

Key words: systematics, phylogeny, morphology, beetles, NGS

Principal Investigator: dr hab. Marcin Jan Kamiński, Ph.D.

Location: Museum and Institute of Zoology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw, Poland)

Scholarship (gross salary): 5,000 PLN per month until 2025-01-25 (NCN scholarship); ca. 3,600 PLN per month 2025-01-25-2025-09-30 (standard PhD scholarship)

Application deadline: May 4, 2021

More info: http://kaminskientomo.org/blog-news/phd

March 19 2021

New article alert:

Gearner, O.M, Kamiński M.J., Kanda K., Swichtenberg K., Smith A.D. 2021. Discovery of New Genera Challenges the Subtribal Classification of Tok-Tok Beetles (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae: Sepidiini). Insect Systematics and Diversity, 5(2): 4; 1–10

Link to the publication:


Cheers, Marcin

Abstract.- Sepidiini is a speciose tribe of desert-inhabiting darkling beetles, which contains a number of poorly defined taxonomic groups and is in need of revision at all taxonomic levels. In this study, two previously unrecognized lineages were discovered, based on morphological traits, among the extremely speciose genera Psammodes Kirby, 1819 (164 species and subspecies) and Ocnodes Fåhraeus, 1870 (144 species and subspecies), namely the Psammodes spinosus species-group and Ocnodes humeralis speciesgroup. In order to test their phylogenetic placement, a phylogeny of the tribe was reconstructed based on analyses of DNA sequences from six nonoverlapping genetic loci (CAD, wg, COI JP, COI BC, COII, and 28S) using Bayesian and maximum likelihood inference methods. The aforementioned, morphologically defined, species-groups were recovered as distinct and well-supported lineages within Molurina + Phanerotomeina and are interpreted as independent genera, respectively, Tibiocnodes Gearner & Kamiński gen. nov. and Tuberocnodes Gearner & Kamiński gen. nov. A new species, Tuberocnodes synhimboides Gearner & Kamiński sp. nov., is also described. Furthermore, as the recovered phylogenetic placement of Tibiocnodes and Tuberocnodes undermines the monophyly of Molurina and Phanerotomeina, an analysis of the available diagnostic characters for those subtribes is also performed. As a consequence, Phanerotomeina is considered as a synonym of the newly redefined Molurina sens. nov. Finally, spectrograms of vibrations produced by substrate tapping of two Molurina species, Toktokkus vialis (Burchell, 1822) and T. synhimboides, are presented.

February 4 2021

International Tenebrionoidea Virtual Symposium VI

Hi everybody, I would like to share some exciting news!

The next International Tenebrionoidea Symposium will take place in May, 2021. This will be a virtual meeting allowing all of us to join and share our research/passion for Tenebrionoidea. This announcement is directed to anybody who is interested. It would be awesome to see your presentation/poster during the meeting; however if you just want to join and observe you are most welcome.

More info, including brief descriptions of the previous meeting, can be found under this link: http://www.tenebrionoidea.org/

Cheers, Marcin

January 16 2021

New article alert:

Ocnodes kruegeri (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae), a new species from Namaqualand, southern Africa, with nomenclatural notes on Sepidiini. Annals of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History 9: 1–5.

Link to the publication:


Cheers, Marcin

Abstract.- A new species of the genus Ocnodes is described (O. kruegeri spec. nov.) from Namaqualand, southern Africa. Moreover, an update of the recently published catalogue (Kamiski et al., 2019a) of the tribe Sepidiini is provided. This includes discovery of two nomenclatural duplications and inclusion of nine previously omitted species. The following new combinations are proposed (both species transferred from Psammodes): Ocnodes badeni (Haag-Rutenberg, 1871) and Ocnodes damarinus (Péringuey, 1904). Trachynotus kruegeri nom. nov. is introduced for Trachynotus vicinus Péringuey, 1886 to avoid homonymy with Trachynotus vicinus (Haag-Rutenberg, 1871).

December 30 2020

New article alert:

On the taxonomic placement of Penichrus Champion, 1885 and a synopsis of North American Opatrini (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae: Blaptinae)

Link to the publication:


Thank you Andrew for inviting me to join you on this one!

Cheers, Marcin

Abstract.- The taxonomic position of Penichrus blapstinoides Champion, 1885 (type species of Penichrus Champion, 1885) within Tenebrionidae is discussed based on the analysis of both type material and comprehensive internal and external morphology. The species was formerly classified within Opatrini (subfamily Blaptinae); however, this hypothesis is hereby rejected as this species does not share any of the diagnostic characteristics proposed for that tribe. A detailed analysis of other phylogenetically crucial features (including male and female terminalia, defensive glands, antennae, and abdominal ventrites) places Penichrus within Tenebrioninae. However, a more detailed assignment is not currently possible given the present circumscriptions of tenebrionine tribes. The genus is hereby placed as incertae sedis within Tenebrioninae. A morphological analysis and discussion of current tribal concepts is presented which exposes the weakness of the currently accepted classification system, and highlights a need for extensive comparative morphological studies within Tenebrioninae. A lectotype for Penichrus blapstinoides is designated. Distolinus impressicollis Fairmaire, 1892 is reinstated as a junior synonym of Penichrus blapstinoides. A revised checklist and key to the genera of Opatrini known from mainland North America are provided.

December 4 2020

New presentation on darkling beetles:

"Unraveling the diversity of HELOPININA Latreille (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae): an illustrated catalogue of the subtribe and initial taxonomic revision" by MJ Kaminski and R. Lumen.

The Coleopterists Society, 2020 Virtual Annual General Meeting


Cheers, Marcin

November 20 2020

National Science Center, Poland – OPUS 19 (2020/37/B/NZ8/02496):

I have received funding for a phylogenetic project concerning darkling beetles!

High-throughput DNA sequencing on historical collections of beetles: phylogenetic studies among Platynotini (Tenebrionidae)


In summer 2021, I'll be recruiting a PhD student to work on a subproject entitled:


More info coming soon!

Cheers, Marcin

Platynotini: Anomalipus

September 24 2020

New book alert:

I have co-authored one chapter on darkling beetles:

Iwan, D., Löbl, I., Bouchard P., Bousquet, Y., Kamiński, M., Merkl O, Ando, K., Schawaller, W. 2020. Family TENEBRIONIDAE Latreille, 1802 in Catalogue of Palaearctic Coleoptera Volume 5, Tenebrionoidea Revised and Updated Second Edition by Iwan, D., Löbl., I. Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands, 969pp; ISBN: 978-90-04-43498-1

Link to the publication:


Cheers, Marcin

September 16, 2020

New article alert:

Reevaluation of Blapimorpha and Opatrinae: addressing a major phylogeny-classification gap in darkling beetles (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae: Blaptinae)

Link to the publication:


Many thanks to the co-authors for a fruitful cooperation!

Cheers, Marcin

Abstract. The taxonomic concepts of Blapimorpha and Opatrinae (informal and traditional, morphology-based groupings among darkling beetles) are tested using molecular phylogenetics and a reassessment of larval and adult morphology to address a major phylogeny-classification gap in Tenebrionidae. Instead of a holistic approach (family-level phylogeny), this study uses a bottom-up strategy (tribal grouping) in order to define larger, monophyletic lineages within Tenebrioninae. Sampling included representatives of 27 tenebrionid tribes: Alleculini, Amarygmini, Amphidorini, Blaptini, Bolitophagini, Branchini, Cerenopini, Coniontini, Caenocrypticini, Dendarini, Eulabini, Helopini, Lagriini, Melanimini, Opatrini, Pedinini, Phaleriini, Physogasterini, Platynotini, Platyscelidini, Praociini, Scaurini, Scotobiini, Tenebrionini, Trachyscelini, Triboliini, and Ulomini. Molecular analyses were based on DNA sequence data from four non-overlapping gene regions: carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase domain of rudimentary (CAD) (723bp), wingless (wg) (438bp), and nuclear ribosomal 28S (1,101bp) and mitochondrial ribosomal 12S (363bp). Additionally, fifteen larval and imaginal characters were scored and subjected to an ancestral state reconstruction analysis. Results revealed that Amphidorini, Blaptini, Dendarini, Pedinini, Platynotini, Platyscelidini, and Opatrini form a clade which can be defined by the following morphological features: adults – antennae lacking compound/stellate sensoria; procoxal cavities externally and internally closed, intersternal membrane of abdominal ventrites 3–5 visible; paired abdominal defensive glands present, elongate, not annulated; larvae – prolegs enlarged (adapted for digging); ninth tergite lacking urogomphi. To accommodate this monophyletic grouping (281 genera and ~4,000 species), the subfamily Blaptinae sens. nov. is resurrected. Prior to these results, all of the tribes within Blaptinae were classified within the polyphyletic subfamily Tenebrioninae. The non-monophyletic nature of this subfamily has already been postulated by previous authors, yet no taxonomic decisions were made to fix its status. The reinstatement of Blaptinae, which groups ~50% of the former Tenebrioninae, helps to clarify phylogenetic relations among the whole family and is the first step towards a complete higher-level revision of Tenebrionidae. The Central Asian tribe Dissonomini (two genera, ~30 species) was not included in Blaptinae due to a lack of representatives in the performed phylogenetic analyses; however, based on morphological features, the tribe is listed as a potential addition to the subfamily.
July 24, 2020

Female terminalia project

I have prepared some tutorials on different dissecting techniques. Enjoy!

June 16, 2020

New article alert:

First insights into the phylogeny of tok-tokkie beetles (Tenebrionidae: Molurina, Phanerotomeina) and examination of the status of the Psammodes vialis species-group

Link to the publication:


Many thanks to the co-authors for a fruitful cooperation!

Cheers, Marcin

April 23, 2020

Ross Taylor Bell and Joyce Rockenbach Bell Research Grant

We have received funding for our Helopinina catalogue.


Thank you!

January 24, 2020

New presentation on darkling beetles:

"Polish comes from the cities; wisdom from the desert: a tale of darkling beetles"

Department of Entomology, 2020 Seminar Series

West Lafayette, IN, USA

Cheers, Marcin

December 31, 2019

New articles alert:

1. Revision of the genus Ulus Horn, 1870

Link to the publication: https://doi.org/10.3161/00034541ANZ2019.69.4.014

2. Taxonomic revision of the genus Machleida Fåhraeus, 1870

Link to the publication: https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.898.46465

This paper received some attention from Polish Press Agency:


Cheers, Marcin

November 17, 2019

"Labels aren’t just travel brochures but essays of the life histories of collectors"

Talk by me and Dariusz Iwan

@Entomological Collections Network Annual Meeting

St. Louis, MO, USA

16-17 November 2019

November 3, 2019

New article alert:

My 1st publication with PURDUE affiliation ;)

Link to the publication:


Many thanks to the co-authors for a fruitful cooperation!

Cheers, Marcin

August 12, 2019

Transfer to Purdue University ;)

Thank you NAU for a wonderful experience.

May 13, 2019

New article alert:

My 40th publication, and the first book ;)

Link to the publication: https://zookeys.pensoft.net/article/34241/

Many thanks to the co-authors for a fruitful cooperation!

Cheers, Marcin

April 16, 2019

New article alert:

Immature stages of beetles representing the ‘Opatrinoid’ clade (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae): an overview of current knowledge of the larval morphology and some resulting taxonomic notes on Blapstinina – was just published in Zoomorphology (https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs00435-019-00443-7.pdf )

Cheers, Marcin

March 31, 2019


Special issue of Annales Zoologici was just published.

You can find all manuscripts here:


Thank you Luboš for organising this Symposium!

Cheers, Marcin

March 28, 2019

Sprawa wniosku o nadanie dr Marcinowi Kamińskiemu stopnia doktora habilitowanego nauk biologicznych w dyscyplinie biologia.


dr hab. Marcin Jan Kamiński ;)

Pliki do pobrania:

January 26, 2019



We have received funding for our Sepidiini catalogue.

Thank you!


January 6, 2019

New article alert:

The taxonomic identity of some enigmatic darkling beetle genera: Archinamaqua Schawaller, 2012 and Menederopsis Koch, 1954 (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) from Namaqualand, South Africa – was just published in Zootaxa (https://biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/view/zootaxa.4543.2.8)

Cheers, Marcin

December 30, 2018

Together with Mary we have added a few Sepidiini photos to the gallery. Majority of them illustrates type specimens loaned from the California Academy of Sciences and Museum and Institute of Zoology PAS. The catalogue of Sepidiini is nearly finished. We have over 1,000 valid species and 55 genera listed at this moment.

Cheers, Marcin & Mary

December 17, 2018

The site has launched!

The main purpose of this place is to popularise the knowledge on selected groups of darkling beetles.

Cheers, Marcin

Platynotina: Zidalus