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Unravelling relationships among the shared stripes of sailors: Mitogenomic phylogeny of Limenitidini butterflies (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae, Limenitidinae), focusing on the genera Athyma and Limenitis

Wu, Li-Wei, Chiba, Hideyuki, Lees, David C., Ohshima, Yasuhiro, Jeng, Ming-Luen
Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 2019 v.130 pp. 60-66
Limenitis, butterflies, mimicry (behavior), mitochondrial genome, models, polyphyly, Asia
The phylogenetic relationships of the nymphalid butterfly tribe Limenitidini are best known for the genera Limenitis and Adelpha, model taxa for evolutionary processes such as Batesian mimicry and rapid adaptive radiations. Whereas these American limenitidines have received the most attention, phylogenetic relationships of their Asian relatives are still controversial and largely unexplored. Even one of the largest genera in Asia, Athyma, is polyphyletic. To clarify the phylogenetic relationships of these Asian Limenitidini, a total of 53 representatives were sampled; 37 have their mitogenomes sequenced for the first time. Our phylogenetic results confirm that mitogenomic data provides well-resolved relationships at most major levels of the phylogeny, even using different partition schemes or different inference methods. Interestingly, our results show that some Athyma taxa are embedded within the genus Limenitis, whereas the genus Tacola, previously considered to be a synonym of Athyma, needs to be recognized as a valid clade. Additionally, the other Limenitidini genera in Asia (namely Tarattia, Litinga, Sumalia, Pandita and Patsuia) are now grouped either within Athyma or Limenitis, so these genera need to be sunk. Importantly, we also show that the mainly Old World Limenitis and entirely New World Adelpha are sister groups, confirming the relevance of Asian lineages to global studies of Limenitis evolution.