Phylogeny and biogeography of hawkmoths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae): evidence from five nuclear genes.

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TitlePhylogeny and biogeography of hawkmoths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae): evidence from five nuclear genes.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsKawahara, AY, Mignault, AA, Regier, JC, Kitching, IJ, Mitter, C
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2009
KeywordsAnimals, Cell Nucleus, Genes, Insect, Geography, Likelihood Functions, Moths, Phylogeny

BACKGROUND: The 1400 species of hawkmoths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) comprise one of most conspicuous and well-studied groups of insects, and provide model systems for diverse biological disciplines. However, a robust phylogenetic framework for the family is currently lacking. Morphology is unable to confidently determine relationships among most groups. As a major step toward understanding relationships of this model group, we have undertaken the first large-scale molecular phylogenetic analysis of hawkmoths representing all subfamilies, tribes and subtribes.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The data set consisted of 131 sphingid species and 6793 bp of sequence from five protein-coding nuclear genes. Maximum likelihood and parsimony analyses provided strong support for more than two-thirds of all nodes, including strong signal for or against nearly all of the fifteen current subfamily, tribal and sub-tribal groupings. Monophyly was strongly supported for some of these, including Macroglossinae, Sphinginae, Acherontiini, Ambulycini, Philampelini, Choerocampina, and Hemarina. Other groupings proved para- or polyphyletic, and will need significant redefinition; these include Smerinthinae, Smerinthini, Sphingini, Sphingulini, Dilophonotini, Dilophonotina, Macroglossini, and Macroglossina. The basal divergence, strongly supported, is between Macroglossinae and Smerinthinae+Sphinginae. All genes contribute significantly to the signal from the combined data set, and there is little conflict between genes. Ancestral state reconstruction reveals multiple separate origins of New World and Old World radiations.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our study provides the first comprehensive phylogeny of one of the most conspicuous and well-studied insects. The molecular phylogeny challenges current concepts of Sphingidae based on morphology, and provides a foundation for a new classification. While there are multiple independent origins of New World and Old World radiations, we conclude that broad-scale geographic distribution in hawkmoths is more phylogenetically conserved than previously postulated.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID19492095
PubMed Central IDPMC2683934