CIE Spotlight: DNA barcoding reveals a possible cryptic species complex of Mycalesis mineus: a case study from Sri Lanka

Patricia L.

Patricia L.

Title: DNA barcoding reveals a possible cryptic species complex of Mycalesis mineus: a case study from Sri Lanka (PDF – go to page 60)

Authors: Goonesekera, K. S.; van der Poorten, G.; Lee, P. L. M.; Ranawaka, G. R.

Source: GENOME, 58 (5):222-222, MAY 2015

Brief summary of the paper: Background: The lepidopteran genus Mycalesis consists of over a hundred species spread throughout the Oriental and Australasian regions. Of these, M. perseus, M. patnia, M. mineus, M. subdita, and M. rama are found in Sri Lanka, with the latter two being endemic to the island. The Sri Lankan populations of M. perseus, M. mineus, and M. patnia are closely related to those of the Oriental region but are divergent enough to support subspecies status as M. perseus typhlus, M. mineus polydecta, and M. patnia patnia, respectively. The aim of this study was to investigate whether DNA barcoding can achieve unambiguous species identification and delineation of Mycalesis species in Sri Lanka. This group was selected for DNA barcoding analysis because these species display close morphological similarity with each other and also contain examples of high morphological variation within species.

Results: We analysed the genetic divergence in the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene of M. perseus, M. patnia, M. mineus, and M. subdita in Sri Lanka, supplemented with sequence data from GenBank. It was possible to unambiguously distinguish M. perseus and M. patina from the M. mineus and M. subdita cluster in neighbour-joining, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian tree analyses. Sri Lankan M. mineus and M. subdita appear relatively closely related, while the regional mineus group formed a separate cluster from the Sri Lankan M. mineus with strong bootstrap support (>90%). These clear barcode clusters may provide evidence for a possible cryptic species complex within the currently recognised M. mineus.

Significance: These barcode results provide evidence for the presence of a genetically diverged M. mineus population in Sri Lanka and highlight the necessity for detailed morphological and ecological investigations to reveal any overlooked species within the Mycalesis subspecies present in the island.