Molecular phylogeny of the Oriental butterfly genus Arhopala (Lycaenidae, Theclinae) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear genes

H.J.W.C. Megens, W.J. Van Nes, C.H.M. van Moorsel, N.E. Pierce, R. de Jong

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10 Citations (Scopus)


We present a phylogeny for a selection of species of the butterfly genus Arhopala Boisduval, 1832 based on molecular characters. We sequenced 1778 bases of the mitochondrial genes Cytochrome Oxidase 1 and 2 including tRNALeu, and a 393-bp fragment of the nuclear wingless gene for a total of 42 specimens of 33 species, representing all major species groups. Analyses of mtDNA and wingless genes show congruent phylogenetic signal. The phylogeny presented here confirms the monophyly of the centaurus, eumolphus, camdeo and epimuta groups and the amphimuta subgroup. It confirms close relationships between species within the agelastus group, that together with the amphimuta subgroup, centaurus and camdeo groups form a monophyletic group. However, incongruencies with previous taxonomic studies also occur; the amphimuta and silhetensis groups are not monophyletic, as is the genus Arhopala itself. One enigmatic species, A. kinabala, was evaluated further for topology and the support for basal placement of this species is due mainly to the wingless gene. However, in the Parsimony analysis, and subsequent Maximum Likelihood evaluations, certain nodes could not be resolved due to insufficient support. The mtDNA shows extreme AT bias with compositional heterogeneity at 3rd codon positions, which may result in saturation. By contrast, the wingless gene does not show compositional bias, suggesting that poor support is not due solely to saturation. The evaluation of morphological characters used in previous studies on Arhopala systematics on the molecular tree indicates that the macular pattern and the absence of tails at the hind wings show extensive homoplasy. A significant phylogenetic signal (as indicated by T-PTP tests) is present in several of these morphological characters, which are nevertheless of limited use in phylogenetic studies due to their labile nature
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-131
JournalSystematic Entomology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • cytochrome-oxidase-i
  • heliconius butterflies
  • nucleotide-sequence
  • compositional bias
  • wingless gene
  • lepidoptera
  • evolution
  • dna
  • nymphalidae
  • inference

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