Zoological Studies

Vol. 47 No. 5, 2008

DNA-Based Discrimination of Subspecies of Swallowtail Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilioninae) from Taiwan

Wei-Chih Tsao and Wen-Bin Yeh*

Department of Entomology, National Chung Hsing University, 250 Kuo-Kuang Rd, Taichung 402, Taiwan

Wei-Chih Tsao and Wen-Bin Yeh (2008) Partial sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene of 89 individuals of 34 papilionid species from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China were determined and compared.  The uncorrected nucleotide divergence of COI increased with taxonomic distance: that among individuals within a species was 0%-4.7%, that among species of a given genus was 1.7%-11.6%, and that among genera in the same family was 6.7%-17%.  In general, a low level of divergence of the COI sequence was observed among subspecies.  Yet, the COI sequence divergence among subspecies of Byasa alcinous, Papilio demoleus, Pap. helenus, Pap. nephelus, and Pazala eurous, which exceeded 2.1%, was much greater than the average divergence observed for all 34 species.  A phylogenetic analysis grouped together members of the same species or genus with high bootstrap values.  The phylogenetic tree revealed a lineage of Chilasa and Agehana followed by Papilio, a close affinity between Byasa and Atrophaneura, and a clade comprised of Graphium, Lamproptera, Paranticopsis, Pathysa, and Pazala.  Sequence variations and phylogenetic analysis results of papilionid COI genes showed that subspecies of B. alcinous, Pap. demoleus, Pap. helenus, Pap. nephelus, and Paz. eurous from different geographic regions and with wings of slightly different color intensities and spot patterns should probably constitute more than 1 species.  Current undifferentiated COI data also suggested that some subspecies of Pap. bianor, Pap. demoleus, Pap. memnon, Pap. nephelus, Pap. paris, Pap. polytes, and Pap. protenor might therefore not to be completely isolated from each other or only recently dispersed.

Key words: Papilionidae, Swallowtail butterfly, Subspecies, Cytochrome oxidase I, COI.

*Correspondence: Tel: 886-4-22840799 ext. 558.  Fax: 886-4-22875024.   E-mail:wbyeh@nchu.edu.tw