Butterflies in the large Palearctic genus Agrodiaetus (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) are extremely uniform and exhibit few distinguishing morphological characters. However, these insects are distinctive in one respect: as a group they possess among the greatest interspecific karyotype diversity in the animal kingdom, with chromosome numbers (n) ranging from 10 to 125. The monophyly of Agrodiaetus and its systematic position relative to other groups within the section Polyommatus have been controversial. Characters from the mitochondrial genes for cytochrome oxidases I and II and from the nuclear gene for elongation factor 1 alpha were used to reconstruct the phylogeny of Agrodiaetus using maximum parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic methods. Ninety-one individuals, encompassing most of the taxonomic diversity of Agrodiaetus, and representatives of 14 related genera were included in this analysis. Our data indicate that Agrodiaetus is monophyletic. Representatives of the genus Polyommatus (sensu stricto) are the closest relatives. The sequences of the Agrodiaetus taxa in this analysis are tentatively arranged into 12 clades, only 1 of which corresponds to a species group traditionally recognized in Agrodiaetus. Heterogeneous substitution rates across a recovered topology were homogenized with a nonparametric rate-smoothing algorithm before the application of a molecular clock. Two published estimates of substitution rates dated the origin of Agrodiaetus between 2.51 and 3.85 million years ago. During this time, there was heterogeneity in the rate and direction of karyotype evolution among lineages within the genus. Karyotype instability has evolved independently three times in the section Polyommatus, within the lineages Agrodiaetus, Lysandra, and Plebicula. Rapid karyotype diversification may have played a significant role in the radiation of the genus Agrodiaetus.
Kandul, Nikolai PLukhtanov, Vladimir ADantchenko, Alexander VColeman, James W SSekercioglu, Cagan HHaig, DavidPierce, Naomi EengComparative StudyResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.England2004/06/19 05:00Syst Biol. 2004 Apr;53(2):278-98.