Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - 9:53 AM

Barcoding microlepidoptera: Enhancing the taxonomy of a mega-diverse but poorly known group of insects

Jean-François Landry, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre, 960 Carling Avenue (K.W. Neatby Bldg), Ottawa, ON, ON, Canada and Vazrick Nazari,, University of Guelph, Department of Integrative Biology, 488 Gordon Street, Guelph, ON, Canada.

We sequenced 8300+ specimens of Microlepidoptera representing ~1100 species covering 45 families across the span of the lower half of the order Lepidoptera. DNA barcodes were highly effective in species recognition, resulting in the separation/recovering of nearly all species sampled. Barcodes correlated closely with most existing species defined largely on the basis of internal genital characters or hosts, as well as confirmed or provided sex associations, thereby complementing morphology-based taxonomy. Cryptic species were uncovered in several genera (e.g. Coleophoridae : Coleophora, Gracillariidae : Caloptilia, Tortricidae : Ancylis, Pyralidae : Aglossa). Barcoding results encompass ~18% of the North American micromoth diversity. Broad and dense taxonomic sampling resulted in the recovery of recognized taxonomic groups such as families and genera forming generally cohesive NJ clusters. In the mega-diverse but morphologically uniform genus Coleophora (Coleophoridae), barcodes provide a highly effective means of enhancing the taxonomic workflow by successfully sorting large series of specimens from single collections, thereby minimizing the need for time-consuming microdissections. Inadequate taxonomic foundation and presence of numerous undescribed species in several families of micromoths (25-90% undescribed species in Coleophoridae, Gelechiidae, Scythrididae) currently prevent assignment of many barcode clusters to existing nominal taxa. Technical impediment includes primarily the need to examine genitalia to assign species identifications which requires special non-standardizable skills to achieve; however, this method currently remains the only way to link barcode clusters to existing names.

Species 1: Lepidoptera Coleophoridae Coleophora spp