Samoaia is a small genus of seven described species endemic to the islands of Samoa. These species are unique for their beautifully patterned wings and thoraces. Wheeler and Kambysellis (1966) reviewed this genus, describing three new species. A cytological study of this group (Ellison, 1968) has been done. There are two major lineages: the “black wing group;” and a sister clade containing two described species, S. leonensis and S. attenuata, and a third undescribed species, “afiamalu.”
It is clear from a number of studies that Samoaia is closely related to the genus Drosophila. Grimaldi (1990) placed Samoaia in a clade with the genus Zaprionus, sister to a monophyletic genus Drosophila. However, several molecular studies place it either within or sister to the subgenus Drosophila, to the exclusion of the subgenus Sophophora. Remsen and O’Grady (2002) suggested
that this species was more basal within the Drosophilidae, close to the
mycophagous genus Hirtodrosophila. It is clear that the placement of this
genus needs to be examined in more detail, particularly with respect to the subgenera Drosophila and Sophophora.
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