Molecular phylogeny of the phytophagous ladybeetles of Epilachnini

Ladybird beetles in the tribe Epilachnini include some notorious crop pests as well as model species studied intensively in various fields of evolutionary biology. From a combined dataset of mitochondrial (ND2) and nuclear (28S) DNA sequences, we reconstructed the phylogeny of Epilachnini from Asia, Africa, America, and the Australian region. In our phylogenetic trees, both Epilachna and Henosepilachna were reciprocally polyphyletic. From reconstructions of biogeographical distribution and host-plant utilization at ancestral nodes, we inferred an African origin for the common ancestor of the species studied, and found the frequency of host shifts to differ greatly between the two major lineages of Epilachnini examined.

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