Background: Evolutionary genetics provides a rich theoretical framework for empirical studies of phylogeography. Investigations of intraspecific genetic variation can uncover new putative species while allowing inference into the evolutionary origin and history of extant populations. With a distribution on four continents ranging throughout most of the Old World, Lampides boeticus ( Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) is one of the most widely distributed species of butterfly. It is placed in a monotypic genus with no commonly accepted subspecies. Here, we investigate the demographic history and taxonomic status of this widespread species, and screen for the presence or absence of the bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia.Results: We performed phylogenetic, population genetic, and phylogeographic analyses using 1799 bp of mitochondrial sequence data from 57 specimens collected throughout the species' range. Most of the samples(> 90%) were nearly genetically identical, with uncorrected pairwise sequence differences of 0 0.5% across geographic distances > 9,000 km. However, five samples from central Thailand, Madagascar, northern Australia and the Moluccas formed two divergent clades differing from the majority of samples by uncorrected pairwise distances ranging from 1.79-2.21%. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that L. boeticus is almost certainly monophyletic, with all sampled genes coalescing well after the divergence from three closely related taxa included for outgroup comparisons. Analyses of molecular diversity indicate that most L. boeticus individuals in extant populations are descended from one or two relatively recent population bottlenecks.Conclusion: The combined analyses suggest a scenario in which the most recent common ancestor of L. boeticus and its sister taxon lived in the African region approximately 7 Mya; extant lineages of L. boeticus began spreading throughout the Old World at least 1.5 Mya. More recently, expansion after population bottlenecks approximately 1.4 Mya seem to have displaced most of the ancestral polymorphism throughout its range, though at least two early-branching lineages still persist. One of these lineages, in northern Australia and the Moluccas, may have experienced accelerated differentiation due to infection with the bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia, which affects reproduction. Examination of a haplotype network suggests that Australia has been colonized by the species several times. While there is little evidence for the existence of morphologically cryptic species, these results suggest a complex history affected by repeated dispersal events.
The massive environmentally buffered nests of some social insects can contain millions of individuals and a wide variety of parasites, commensals and mutualists. We suggest that the ways in which these homeostatic fortress environments affect the evolution of social insect symbionts are relevant for epidemiology, evolutionary biology and macroecology. We contend that specialized parasites will tend to become less virulent and mutualists less cooperative, compared to those associated with solitary or small-colony hosts. These processes are expected to contribute to the very high symbiont diversity observed in these nests. We hypothesize that biodiversity gradients in these hotspots might be less affected by abiotic latitudinal clines than gradients in neighboring 'control' habitats. We suggest several research lines to test these ideas.
Since the time of Darwin(1), evolutionary biologists have been fascinated by the spectacular adaptations to insect pollination exhibited by orchids. However, despite being the most diverse plant family on Earth(2), the Orchidaceae lack a definitive fossil record and thus many aspects of their evolutionary history remain obscure. Here we report an exquisitely preserved orchid pollinarium (of Meliorchis caribea gen. et sp. nov.) attached to the mesoscutellum of an extinct stingless bee, Proplebeia dominicana, recovered from Miocene amber in the Dominican Republic, that is 15-20 million years (Myr) old(3). This discovery constitutes both the first unambiguous fossil of Orchidaceae(4) and an unprecedented direct fossil observation of a plant-pollinator interaction(5,6). By applying cladistic methods to a morphological character matrix, we resolve the phylogenetic position of M. caribea within the extant subtribe Goodyerinae (subfamily Orchidoideae). We use the ages of other fossil monocots and M. caribea to calibrate a molecular phylogenetic tree of the Orchidaceae. Our results indicate that the most recent common ancestor of extant orchids lived in the Late Cretaceous (76-84 Myr ago), and also suggest that the dramatic radiation of orchids began shortly after the mass extinctions at the K/T boundary. These results further support the hypothesis of an ancient origin for Orchidaceae.
We investigate the geographical and historical context of diversification in a complex of mutualistic Crematogaster ants living in Macaranga trees in the equatorial rain forests of Southeast Asia. Using mitochondrial DNA from 433 ant colonies collected from 32 locations spanning Borneo, Malaya and Sumatra, we infer branching relationships, patterns of genetic diversity and population history. We reconstruct a time frame for the ants' diversification and demographic expansions, and identify areas that might have been refugia or centres of diversification. Seventeen operational lineages are identified, most of which can be distinguished by host preference and geographical range. The ants first diversified 16-20 Ma, not long after the onset of the everwet forests in Sundaland, and achieved most of their taxonomic diversity during the Pliocene. Pleistocene demographic expansions are inferred for several of the younger lineages. Phylogenetic relationships suggest a Bornean cradle and major axis of diversification. Taxonomic diversity tends to be associated with mountain ranges; in Borneo, it is greatest in the Crocker Range of Sabah and concentrated also in other parts of the northern northwest coast. Within-lineage genetic diversity in Malaya and Sumatra tends to also coincide with mountain ranges. A series of disjunct and restricted distributions spanning northern northwest Borneo and the major mountain ranges of Malaya and Sumatra, seen in three pairs of sister lineages, further suggests that these regions were rain-forest refuges during drier climatic phases of the Pleistocene. Results are discussed in the context of the history of Sundaland's rain forests.
We propose a new mechanism based on sexual selection to explain the evolution of diet breadth in insects. More specifically, we show that mate choice in females for certain diet-derived male pheromones can be exploited by maternal effect genes that preferentially place offspring on a specific host plant, resulting in specialization. Our analytical model also suggests that the process is more likely to occur with species that show male-congregating mating strategies, such as lekking and hilltopping. The model offers a new explanation for the similarity between the composition of male lepidopteran pheromones and the chemistry of their host plants and also suggests a novel mechanism of host plant shift. This is the first time that sexual selection has been proposed to drive host plant specialization and the first time that a mechanism with selection acting solely on the adult stage has been shown to be capable of determining larval feeding habits.
That chromosomal rearrangements may play an important role in maintaining postzygotic isolation between well-established species is part of the standard theory of speciation. However, little evidence exists on the role of karyotypic change in speciation itself-in the establishment of reproductive barriers between previously interbreeding populations. The large genus' Agrodiaetus (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) provides a model system to study this question. Agrodiaetus butterflies exhibit unusual interspecific diversity in chromosome number, from n = 10 to n = 134; in contrast, the majority of lycaenid butterflies have n = 23/24. We analyzed the evolution of karyotypic diversity by mapping chromosome numbers on a thoroughly sampled mitochondrial phylogeny of the genus. Karyotypic differences accumulate gradually between allopatric sister taxa, but more rapidly between sympatric sister taxa. Overall, sympatric sister taxa have a higher average karyotypic diversity than allopatric sister taxa. Differential fusion of diverged populations may account for this pattern because the degree of karyotypic difference acquired between allopatric populations may determine whether they will persist as nascent biological species in secondary sympatry. This study therefore finds evidence of a direct role for chromosomal rearrangements in the final stages of animal speciation. Rapid karyotypic diversification is likely to have contributed to the explosive speciation rate observed in Agrodiaetus, 1.6 species per million years.
The Australian fauna is composed of several major biogeographical elements reflecting different spatial and temporal histories. Two groups of particular interest are the Gondwanan Element, reflecting an ancient origin in Gondwana or southern Gondwana (southern vicariance hypothesis), and the Asian Element, reflecting a more recent origin in Asia, Eurasia or Laurasia (northern dispersal hypothesis). Theories regarding the origin and evolution of butterflies (Hesperioidea, Papilionoidea) in Australia are controversial, with no clear consensus. Here, we investigate the phylogenetic and historical biogeographical relationships of the subtribe Aporiina, a widespread taxon with disjunct distributions in each of the major zoogeographical regions. Attention is paid to origins of the subtribe in the Australian Region for which several conflicting hypotheses have been proposed for the Old World genus Delias Hubner. Our phylogenetic reconstruction was based on analysis of fragments of two nuclear genes (elongation factor-1 alpha, wingless) and one mitochondrial gene (cytochrome oxidase subunit 1) for 30 taxa. Phylogenetic analyses based on maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference of the combined data set (2729 bp; 917 parsimony informative characters) recovered six major lineages within the monophyletic Aporiina, with the following topology: (Cepora + Prioneris + (Mylothris + (Aporia + Delias group + Catasticta group))). Given a probable age of origin of the stem-group near the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary (69-54 Mya), followed by diversification of the crown-group in the early to mid Tertiary (57-45 Mya), we show that an origin of the Aporiina in either southern Gondwana or Laurasia is equally parsimonious, and that dispersal has played a major role in shaping the underlying phylogenetic pattern. We tentatively conclude that an origin in southern Gondwanan is more likely; however, neither hypothesis satisfactorily explains the present-day distribution, and additional lower-level phylogenies are needed to determine the directionality of dispersal events of several taxa and to reject one hypothesis over the other. Dispersal is inferred to have occurred primarily during cooler periods when land bridges or stepping-stones were available between many of the zoogeographical regions. (c) 2007 The Linnean Society of London.
Two alternative hypotheses for the origin of butterflies in the Australian Region, that elements dispersed relatively recently from the Oriental Region into Australia (northern dispersal hypothesis) or descended from ancient stocks in Gondwana (southern vicariance hypothesis), were tested using methods of cladistic vicariance biogeography for the Delias group, a diverse and widespread clade in the Indo-Australian Region. A phylogenetic hypothesis of the twenty-four species-groups recognized currently in Delias and its sister genus Leuciacria is inferred from molecular characters generated from the nuclear gene elongation factor-1 alpha (EF-1 alpha) and the mitochondrial genes cytochrome oxidase subunits I and II (COI/COII) and NADH dehydrogenase 5 (ND5). Phylogenetic analyses based on maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference of the combined dataset (3888 bp, 1014 parsimony informative characters) confirmed the monophyly of Delias and recovered eight major lineages within the genus, informally designated the singhapura, belladonna, hyparete, chrysomelaena, eichhorni, cuningputi, belisama and nigrina clades. Species-group relationships within these clades are, in general, concordant with current systematic arrangements based on morphology. The major discrepancies concern the placement of the aganippe, belisama and chrysomelaena groups, as well as several species-groups endemic to mainland New Guinea. Two species (D. harpalyce (Donovan), D. messalina Arora) of uncertain group status are currently misplaced based on strong evidence of paraphyly, and are accordingly transferred to the nigrina and kummeri groups, respectively. Based on this phylogeny, a revised systematic classification is presented at the species-group level. An historical biogeographical analysis of the Delias group revealed that the most parsimonious reconstruction is an origin in the Australian Region, with at least seven dispersal events across Wallacea to the Oriental Region. The eight major clades of Delias appear to have diverged rapidly following complete separation of the Australian plate from Gondwana and its collision with the Asian plate in the late Oligocene. Further diversification and dispersal of Delias in the Miocene-Pliocene are associated with major geological and climatic changes that occurred in Australia-New Guinea during the late Tertiary. The 'out-of-Australia' hypothesis for the Delias group supports an origin of the Aporiina in southern Gondwana (southern vicariance hypothesis), which proposes that the ancestor of Delias + Leuciacria differentiated vicariantly on the Australian plate.
Abstract. 1. A variety of insects prey on honeydew-producing Homoptera and many do so even in the presence of ants that tend, and endeavour to protect, these trophobionts from natural enemies. Few studies have explored the semiochemical mechanisms by which these predators circumvent attack by otherwise aggressive ants. 2. Ants use specific mixtures of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) as recognition labels, but this simple mechanism is frequently circumvented by nest parasites that engage in ‘chemical mimicry’ of their host ants by producing or acquiring a critical suite of these CHCs. 3. Analysis of the CHCs from the North American woolly alder aphid, Prociphilus tessellatus (Homoptera: Aphididae), their tending ants, and aphid predators from three insect orders, Feniseca tarquinius (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae), Chrysopa slossonae (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae), and Syrphus ribesii (Diptera: Syrphidae), showed that while the CHC profile of each predatory species was distinct, each was chemically more similar to the aphids than to either tending ant species. Further, the CHCs of each predator species were a subset of the compounds found in the aphids’ profile. 4. These results implicate CHCs as a recognition cue used by ants to discriminate trophobionts from potential prey and a probable mechanism by which trophobiont predators circumvent detection by aphids and their tending ants. 5. Although several features of the aphids’ CHC profile are shared among the chemically mimetic taxa, variation in the precision of mimicry among the members of this predatory guild demonstrates that a chemical mimic need not replicate every feature of its model.
Abstract. The ant-tended Australian butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras, has been a model system for studying the ecology and evolution of mutualism. A phylogeographic analysis of mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I sequences from 242 butterflies (615 bp) and 66 attendant ants (585 bp) from 22 populations was carried out to explore the relationship between ant association and butterfly population structure. This analysis revealed 12 closely related butterfly haplotypes in three distinct clades roughly corresponding to three allopatric subpopulations of the butterflies. Minimal genetic diversity and widespread haplotypes within biogeographical regions suggest high levels of matrilineal gene flow. Attendant ants are significantly more diverse than was previously thought, with at least seven well-defined clades corresponding to independent morphological determinations, distributed throughout the range of the butterflies. Nested analysis of molecular variance showed that biogeography, host plant, and ant associate all contribute significantly in explaining variation in butterfly genetic diversity, but these variables are not independent of one another. Major influences appear to come from fragmentation due to large-scale biogeographical barriers, and diversification following a shift in habitat preference. A consequence of such a shift could be codiversification of the butterfly with habitatadapted ants, resulting in apparent phylogenetic concordance between butterflies and ants. The implications of these results are discussed in terms of possible effects of ant attendance on the diversification of Lycaenidae as a whole.
The systematic relationships of the butterfly family Pieridae are poorly understood. Much of our current understanding is based primarily on detailed morphological observations made 50–70 years ago. However, the family and its putative four subfamilies and two tribes, have rarely been subjected to rigorous phylogenetic analysis. Here we present results based on an analysis of molecular characters used to reconstruct the phylogeny of the Pieridae in order to infer higher-level classification above the generic level and patterns of historical biogeography. Our sample contained 90 taxa representing 74 genera and six subgenera, or 89% of all genera recognized in the family. Three complementary approaches were employed: (1) a combined analysis of a 30 taxon subset for sequences from four gene regions, including elongation factor-1 alpha (EF-1α), wingless, cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI), and 28S (3675 bp, 1031 parsimony-informative characters), mainly to establish higher-level relationships, (2) a single-gene analysis of the 90 taxon data set for sequences from EF-1α (1066 bp, 364 parsimony-informative characters), mainly to establish lower-level relationships, and (3) an all available data analysis of the entire data set for sequences from the four genes, to recover both deep and shallow nodes. Analyses using maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference provided similar results. All supported monophyly for the four subfamilies but not for the two tribes, with the Anthocharidini polyphyletic and the Pierini paraphyletic. The combined and all available data analyses support the following relationships among the subfamilies: ((Pseudopontiinae + Dismorphiinae) + (Coliadinae + Pierinae)), corroborating Ehrlich’s 1958 phenetic hypothesis. On the basis of these analyses, and additional morphological and life history evidence, we propose a reclassification of the subfamily Pierinae into two tribes (Anthocharidini s.s., Pierini s.s.) and two informal groups (Colotis group, Leptosia), with the tribe Pierini s.s. subdivided into three subtribes (Appiadina, Pierina, Aporiina) and three genera (Elodina, Dixeia, Belenois) of uncertain status (incertae sedis). The combined and all available data analyses support the following relationships among the Pierinae: (Colotis group + Anthocharidini s.s. + Leptosia + (Elodina + ((Dixeia + Belenois) + Appiadina + Pierina + Aporiina))). Application of a molecular clock calibrated using fossil evidence and semiparametric rate smoothing suggests that divergence between the Pierina and Aporiina occurred no later than the Palaeocene (> 60 Myr). The minimum estimate for the age of the crown-group of the Pieridae was 112–82 Myr, with a mean of 95 Myr. A historical biogeographical hypothesis is proposed to explain the present-day distribution of the clade Pseudopontiinae + Dismorphiinae, which argues for an origin of the two subfamilies in western Gondwana (Africa + South America) during the Late Cretaceous.
1. A variety of insects prey on honeydew-producing Homoptera and many do so even in the presence of ants that tend, and endeavour to protect, these trophobionts from natural enemies. Few studies have explored the semiochemical mechanisms by which these predators circumvent attack by otherwise aggressive ants.2. Ants use specific mixtures of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) as recognition labels, but this simple mechanism is frequently circumvented by nest parasites that engage in 'chemical mimicry' of their host ants by producing or acquiring a critical suite of these CHCs.3. Analysis of the CHCs from the North American woolly alder aphid, Prociphilus tessellatus (Homoptera: Aphididae), their tending ants, and aphid predators from three insect orders, Feniseca tarquinius (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae), Chrysopa slossonae (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae), and Syrphus ribesii (Diptera: Syrphidae), showed that while the CHC profile of each predatory species was distinct, each was chemically more similar to the aphids than to either tending ant species. Further, the CHCs of each predator species were a subset of the compounds found in the aphids' profile.4. These results implicate CHCs as a recognition cue used by ants to discriminate trophobionts from potential prey and a probable mechanism by which trophobiont predators circumvent detection by aphids and their tending ants.5. Although several features of the aphids' CHC profile are shared among the chemically mimetic taxa, variation in the precision of mimicry among the members of this predatory guild demonstrates that a chemical mimic need not replicate every feature of its model.
The ant-tended Australian butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras, has been a model system for studying the ecology and evolution of mutualism. A phylogeographic analysis of mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I sequences from 242 butterflies (615 bp) and 66 attendant ants (585 bp) from 22 populations was carried out to explore the relationship between ant association and butterfly population structure. This analysis revealed 12 closely related butterfly haplotypes in three distinct clades roughly corresponding to three allopatric subpopulations of the butterflies. Minimal genetic diversity and widespread haplotypes within biogeographical regions Suggest high levels of matrilineal gene flow. Attendant ants are significantly more diverse than was previously thought, with at least seven well-defined clades corresponding to independent morphological determinations, distributed throughout the range of the butterflies. Nested analysis of molecular variance showed that biogeography, host plant, and ant associate all contribute significantly in explaining variation in butterfly genetic diversity, but these variables are not independent of one another. Major influences appear to come from fragmentation due to large-scale biogeographical barriers, and diversification following a shift in habitat preference. A consequence of such a shift could be codiversification of the butterfly with habitatadapted ants, resulting in apparent phylogenetic concordance between butterflies and ants The implications of these results are discussed in terms of possible effects of ant attendance on the diversification of Lycaenidae as a whole.
We present a large-scale molecular phylogeny of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), based on 4.5 kilobases of sequence data from six gene regions extracted from 139 of the 288 described extant genera, representing 19 of the 20 subfamilies. All but two subfamilies are recovered as monophyletic. Divergence time estimates calibrated by minimum age constraints from 43 fossils indicate that most of the subfamilies representing extant ants arose much earlier than previously proposed but only began to diversify during the Late Cretaceous to Early Eocene. This period also witnessed the rise of angiosperms and most herbivorous insects.
Many pathogens are virulent because they specifically interfere with host defense responses and therefore can proliferate. Here, we report that virulent strains of the bacterial phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae induce systemic susceptibility to secondary A syringae infection in the host plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This systemic induced susceptibility (SIS) is in direct contrast to the well studied avirulence/R gene-dependent resistance response known as the hypersensitive response that elicits systemic acquired resistance. We show that A syringae-elicited SIS is caused by the production of coronatine (COR), a pathogen -derived functional and structural mimic of the phytohormone jasmonic acid (JA). These data suggest that SIS may be a consequence of the previously described mutually antagonistic interaction between the salicylic acid and JA signaling pathways. Virulent P. syringae also has the potential to induce net systemic susceptibility to herbivory by an insect (Trichoplusia ni, cabbage looper), but this susceptibility is not caused by COR. Rather, consistent with its role as a A mimic, COR induces systemic resistance to T. ni. These data highlight the complexity of defense signaling interactions among plants, pathogens, and herbivores.
The reinforcement model of evolution argues that natural selection enhances pre-zygotic isolation between divergent populations or species by selecting against unfit hybrids(1,2) or costly interspecific matings(3). Reinforcement is distinguished from other models that consider the formation of reproductive isolation to be a by-product of divergent evolution(4,5). Although theory has shown that reinforcement is a possible mechanism that can lead to speciation(6-8), empirical evidence has been sufficiently scarce to raise doubts about the importance of reinforcement in nature(6,9,10). Agrodiaetus butterflies ( Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) exhibit unusual variability in chromosome number. Whereas their genitalia and other morphological characteristics are largely uniform, different species vary considerably in male wing colour, and provide a model system to study the role of reinforcement in speciation. Using comparative phylogenetic methods, we show that the sympatric distribution of 15 relatively young sister taxa of Agrodiaetus strongly correlates with differences in male wing colour, and that this pattern is most likely the result of reinforcement. We find little evidence supporting sympatric speciation: rather, in Agrodiaetus, karyotypic changes accumulate gradually in allopatry, prompting reinforcement when karyotypically divergent races come into contact.
Phylogenetic relationships among major clades of butterflies and skippers have long been controversial, with no general consensus even today. Such lack of resolution is a substantial impediment to using the otherwise well studied butterflies as a model group in biology. Here we report the results of a combined analysis of DNA sequences from three genes and a morphological data matrix for 57 taxa (3258 characters, 1290 parsimony informative) representing all major lineages from the three putative butterfly super-families (Hedyloidea, Hesperioidea and Papilionoidea), plus out-groups representing other ditrysian Lepidoptera families. Recently, the utility of morphological data as a source of phylogenetic evidence has been debated. We present the first well supported phylogenetic hypothesis for the butterflies and skippers based on a total-evidence analysis of both traditional morphological characters and new molecular characters from three gene regions (GOI, EF-1 alpha and wingless). All four data partitions show substantial hidden support for the deeper nodes, which emerges only in a combined analysis in which the addition of morphological data plays a crucial role. With the exception of Nymphalidae, the traditionally recognized families are found to be strongly supported monophyletic clades with the following relationships: (Hesperiidae+(Papilionidae+(Pieridae+(Nymphalidae+(Lycaenidae+Riodinidae))))). Nymphalidae is recovered as a monophyletic clade but this clade does not have strong support. Lycaenidae and Riodinidae are sister groups with strong support and we suggest that the latter be given family rank. The position of Pieridae as the sister taxon to nymphalids, lycaenids and riodinids is supported by morphology and the EF-1 alpha data but conflicted by the COI and wingless data. Hedylidae are more likely to be related to butterflies and skippers than geometrid moths and appear to be the sister group to Papilionoidea + Hesperioidea.
We investigate the evolution of host association in a cryptic complex of mutualistic Crematogaster (Decacrema) ants that inhabits and defends Macaranga trees in Southeast Asia. Previous phylogenetic studies based on limited samplings of Decacrema present conflicting reconstructions of the evolutionary history of the association, inferring both cospeciation and the predominance of host shifts. We use cytochrome oxidase I (COI) to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships in a comprehensive sampling of the Decacrema inhabitants of Macaranga. Using a published Macaranga phylogeny, we test whether the ants and plants have cospeciated. The COI phylogeny reveals 10 well-supported lineages and an absence of cospeciation. Host shifts, however, have been constrained by stem traits that are themselves correlated with Macaranga phylogeny. Earlier lineages of Decacrema exclusively inhabit waxy stems, a basal state in the Pachystemon clade within Macaranga, whereas younger species of Pachystemon, characterized by nonwaxy stems, are inhabited only by younger lineages of Decacrema. Despite the absence of cospeciation, the correlated succession of stem texture in both phylogenies suggests that Decacrema and Pachystemon have diversified in association, or codiversified. Subsequent to the colonization of the Pachystemon clade, Decacrema expanded onto a second clade within Macaranga, inducing the development of myrmecophytism in the Pruinosae group. Confinement to the aseasonal wet climate zone of western Malesia suggests myrmecophytic Macaranga are no older than the wet forest community in Southeast Asia, estimated to be about 20 million years old (early Miocene). Our calculation of COI divergence rates from several published arthropod studies that relied on tenable calibrations indicates a generally conserved rate of approximately 1.5% per million years. Applying this rate to a rate-smoothed Bayesian chronogram of the ants, the Decacrema from Macaranga are inferred to be at least 12 million years old (mid-Miocene). However, using the extremes of rate variation in COI produces an age as recent as 6 million years. Our inferred timeline based on 1.5% per million years concurs with independent biogeographical events in the region reconstructed from palynological data, thus suggesting that the evolutionary histories of Decacrema and their Pachystemon hosts have been contemporaneous since the mid-Miocene. The evolution of myrmecophytism enabled Macaranga to radiate into enemy-free space, while the ants' diversification has been shaped by stem traits, host specialization, and geographic factors. We discuss the possibility that the ancient and exclusive association between Decacrema and Macaranga was facilitated by an impoverished diversity of myrmecophytes and phytoecious (obligately plant inhabiting) ants in the region.
Large blue (Maculinea) butterflies are highly endangered throughout the Palaearctic region, and have been the focus of intense conservation research(1-3). In addition, their extraordinary parasitic lifestyles make them ideal for studies of life history evolution. Early instars consume flower buds of specific host plants, but later instars live in ant nests where they either devour the brood (predators), or are fed mouth-to-mouth by the adult ants (cuckoos). Here we present the phylogeny for the group, which shows that it is a monophyletic clade nested within Phengaris, a rare Oriental genus whose species have similar life histories(4,5). Cuckoo species are likely to have evolved from predatory ancestors. As early as five million years ago, two Maculinea clades diverged, leading to the different parasitic strategies seen in the genus today. Contrary to current belief, the two recognized cuckoo species show little genetic divergence and are probably a single ecologically differentiated species(6-10). On the other hand, some of the predatory morphospecies exhibit considerable genetic divergence and may contain cryptic species. These findings have important implications for conservation and reintroduction efforts.