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Proc Biol Sci. 2017 Feb 8;284(1848). pii: 20161735. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.1735.

When COI barcodes deceive: complete genomes reveal introgression in hairstreaks.

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Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390-8816, USA.
Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, NHB Stop 105, Washington, DC, USA.
Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1177, USA.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390-8816, USA


Two species of hairstreak butterflies from the genus Calycopis are known in the United States: C. cecrops and C. isobeon Analysis of mitochondrial COI barcodes of Calycopis revealed cecrops-like specimens from the eastern US with atypical barcodes that were 2.6% different from either USA species, but similar to Central American Calycopis species. To address the possibility that the specimens with atypical barcodes represent an undescribed cryptic species, we sequenced complete genomes of 27 Calycopis specimens of four species: C. cecrops, C. isobeon, C. quintana and C. bactra Some of these specimens were collected up to 60 years ago and preserved dry in museum collections, but nonetheless produced genomes as complete as fresh samples. Phylogenetic trees reconstructed using the whole mitochondrial and nuclear genomes were incongruent. While USA Calycopis with atypical barcodes grouped with Central American species C. quintana by mitochondria, nuclear genome trees placed them within typical USA C. cecrops in agreement with morphology, suggesting mitochondrial introgression. Nuclear genomes also show introgression, especially between C. cecrops and C. isobeon About 2.3% of each C. cecrops genome has probably (p-value < 0.01, FDR < 0.1) introgressed from C. isobeon and about 3.4% of each C. isobeon genome may have come from C. cecrops. The introgressed regions are enriched in genes encoding transmembrane proteins, mitochondria-targeting proteins and components of the larval cuticle. This study provides the first example of mitochondrial introgression in Lepidoptera supported by complete genome sequencing. Our results caution about relying solely on COI barcodes and mitochondrial DNA for species identification or discovery.


Lepidoptera; blues and hairstreaks; comparative genomics; phylogeny; speciation; taxonomy

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