Navigation Links
UF study advances 'DNA revolution,' tells butterflies' evolutionary history
Date:7/31/2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- By tracing nearly 3,000 genes to the earliest common ancestor of butterflies and moths, University of Florida scientists have created an extensive "Tree of Lepidoptera" in the first study to use large-scale, next-generation DNA sequencing.

Among the study's more surprising findings: Butterflies are more closely related to small moths than to large ones, which completely changes scientists' understanding of how butterflies evolved. The study also found that some insects once classified as moths are actually butterflies, increasing the number of butterfly species higher than previously thought.

"This project advances biodiversity research by providing an evolutionary foundation for a very diverse group of insects, with nearly 160,000 described species," said Akito Kawahara, lead author and assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. "With a tree, we can now understand how the majority of butterfly and moth species evolved."

Available online and to be published in the August print edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, the study builds the evolutionary framework for future ecological and genetics research of insects, Kawahara said.

"There is a DNA revolution taking place," Kawahara said. "This is an important time in the history of science when we can use DNA sequencing on a very large scale."

Kawahara said the yearlong study is one of the first to utilize a massive amount of genetic data to answer questions about the history of butterflies and moths. The analysis reveals monumental discoveries about the lineage of Lepidoptera, including strongly contradicting the traditional placement of butterflies in evolutionary history, Kawahara said.

Using next-generation sequencing, a method used to rapidly process large amounts of DNA, scientists developed an initial sample of 46 species that represent many of the most bio diverse groups of moths and butterflies. They also combined 33 new transcriptomes, a set of RNA molecules, with 13 genomes, both of which hold genetic material for organisms. The researchers identified 2,696 genes by breaking down the DNA down and piecing it back together, Kawahara said.

Daniel Rubinoff, entomologist and director of the University of Hawaii Insect Museum, said the new study will help scientists conclusively pinpoint where butterflies belong in evolutionary history -- a question that has long troubled researchers.

"This study adds to a growing body of knowledge by bringing new techniques to the table and conclusively demonstrating the evolutionary relationships of the most popular insects on the planet," Rubinoff said. "The methods are novel and build on previous work. This is clearly the future of deep-level evolutionary research."

The wispy, delicate nature of butterflies and moths is part of their charm, but their soft-bodied larval stages have posed a problem for scientists studying them in the fossil record. In the current study, scientists aimed to better understand an evolutionary history that morphological analysis and the fossil record has fallen short of firmly establishing, said Jesse Breinholt, co-author and a postdoctoral researcher with the Florida Museum.

"The few Lepidoptera fossils we have are from about 15 million years ago," Breinholt said. "The next step is to create a dated evolutionary history for the group, from the earliest ancestors to present day."

Previous research based on anatomical features hypothesized that butterflies are close relatives of large moths, but the new tree suggests butterflies are more closely related to small (micro) moths, Kawahara said. The study also suggests butterflies are the ancestral group to the tens of thousands of moth species on the planet, and the Hedylidae family, commonly known as American butterfly-moths, were dismissed as moths and found to be true butterflies.

The tree also provides a baseline to test whether diurnal, or daytime, activity, a common butterfly trait, evolved much earlier than scientists previously believed, possibly at a time when bats' spread across the planet, as a means of escaping these and other nocturnal predators, Kawahara said.

Future research will investigate the causes of evolutionary transitions, such as diurnal activity, across Lepidoptera. Breinholt said although the new tree clarifies our understanding of butterfly and moth relationships, many lineages still need to be examined.

"I hope this is a starting point for larger studies that account for the great diversity of Lepidoptera," Breinholt said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Akito Kawahara
kawahara@flmnh.ufl.edu
352-273-2018
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Study of twins discovers gene mutation linked to short sleep duration
2. Study finds benefits to burning Flint Hills prairie in fall and winter
3. UT Dallas study reveals effect of loud noises on brain
4. New international tree nut council study looks at nuts, diabetes and metabolic syndrome
5. Study: Marine pest provides advances in maritime anti-fouling and biomedicine
6. Healthy lifestyle may buffer against stress-related cell aging, study says
7. Study suggests disruptive effects of anesthesia on brain cell connections are temporary
8. Study finds Europes habitat and wildlife is vulnerable to climate change
9. Dinosaurs fell victim to perfect storm of events, study shows
10. Study: Climate change and air pollution will combine to curb food supplies
11. First national study finds trees saving lives, reducing respiratory problems
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UF study advances 'DNA revolution,' tells butterflies' evolutionary history
(Date:2/11/2016)... Feb. 11, 2016  Vigilant Solutions announces today that its ... being used by Lee,s Summit Police ... location and arrest of a homicide suspect. ... covers around 65 square miles and is home to roughly ... has a single mobile license plate reader system and also ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , February 10, 2016 ... According to 2016 iris recognition market report, ... recognition is more widely accepted for border ... both fingerprint and iris recognition technology in ... to avoid purchasing two individual biometrics devices. ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... (NASDAQ: AWRE ), a leading supplier of biometrics software and ... ended December 31, 2015.  --> ... million, an increase of 61% compared to $4.3 million in the ... 2015 was $2.6 million compared to $0.2 million in the fourth ... Higher revenue and operating income in the fourth quarter of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016  Vermillion, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... gynecologic disease, today announced the formation of the Steering ... --> --> Pelvic masses can ... diagnosis and management. Once pregnancy is ruled out, pelvic ... and ovaries, advanced endometriosis, benign ovarian tumors and gastrointestinal ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Germany and ... -- QGEN ; Frankfurt Prime Standard: QIA) ... QIAseq Targeted RNA Panels for gene expression profiling, expanding ... sequencing (NGS). The panels enable researchers to select from ... fold changes and discover interactions between genes, cellular phenotypes ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... -- Bioethics International, a not-for-profit organization focused on the ethics and ... accessible to patients around the world, today announced that the ... of the Good Pharma Scorecard an ,Editors, ... one of BMJ Open ,s ,Most Popular Articles, which ... frequently read. Ed Sucksmith , assistant editor of ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016  Spectra BioPharma Selling Solutions ... that provides biopharma companies the experience, expertise, operational ... deploy outsourced sales teams. Created in concert with ... both the strategic and tactical needs of its ... solutions through both personal and non-personal promotion. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: