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      Luminescent characteristics and mitochondrial COI barcodes of nine cohabitated Taiwanese fireflies

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          Abstract

          Background

          Over 50 Taiwanese firefly species have been discovered, but scientists lack information regarding most of their genetics, bioluminescent features, and cohabitating phenomena. In this study, we focus on morphological species identification and phylogeny reconstructed by COI barcoding, as well as luminescent characteristics of cohabited Taiwanese firefly species to determine the key factors that influenced how distinct bioluminescent species evolved to coexist and proliferate within the same habitat.

          Methods

          In this study, 366 specimens from nine species were collected in northern Taiwan from April to August, 2016–2019. First, the species and sex of the specimens were morphologically and genetically identified. Then, their luminescent spectra and intensities were recorded using a spectrometer and a power meter, respectively. The habitat temperature, relative humidity, and environmental light intensity were also measured. The cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene sequence was used as a DNA barcode to reveal the phylogenetic relationships of cohabitated species.

          Results

          Nine species—eight adult species ( Abscondita chinensis, Abscondita cerata, Aquatica ficta, Luciola curtithorax, Luciola kagiana, Luciola filiformis, Curtos sauteri, and Curtos costipennis) and one larval Pyrocoelia praetexta—were morphologically identified. The nine species could be found in April–August. Six of the eight adult species shared an overlap occurrence period in May. Luminescent spectra analysis revealed that the λ max of studied species ranged from 552–572 nm (yellow–green to orange–yellow). The average luminescent intensity range of these species was about 1.2–14 lux (182.1–2,048 nW/cm 2) for males and 0.8–5.8 lux (122.8–850 nW/cm 2) for females, and the maximum luminescent intensity of males was 1.01–7.26-fold higher than that of females. Compared with previous studies, this study demonstrates that different λ max, species-specific flash patterns, microhabitat choices, nocturnal activity time, and/or an isolated mating season are key factors that may lead to the species-specific courtship of cohabitated fireflies. Moreover, we estimated that the fireflies start flashing or flying when the environmental light intensity decreased to 6.49–28.1 lux. Thus, based on a rough theoretical calculation, the sensing distance between male and female fireflies might be 1.8–2.7 m apart in the dark. In addition, the mitochondrial COI barcode identified species with high resolution and suggested that most of the studied species have been placed correctly with congeners in previous phylogenies. Several cryptic species were revealed by the COI barcode with 3.27%–12.3% variation. This study renews the idea that fireflies’ luminescence color originated from the green color of a Lampyridae ancestor, then red-shifted to yellow-green in Luciolinae, and further changed to orange–yellow color in some derived species.

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          Most cited references86

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          MEGA7: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis Version 7.0 for Bigger Datasets.

          We present the latest version of the Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (Mega) software, which contains many sophisticated methods and tools for phylogenomics and phylomedicine. In this major upgrade, Mega has been optimized for use on 64-bit computing systems for analyzing larger datasets. Researchers can now explore and analyze tens of thousands of sequences in Mega The new version also provides an advanced wizard for building timetrees and includes a new functionality to automatically predict gene duplication events in gene family trees. The 64-bit Mega is made available in two interfaces: graphical and command line. The graphical user interface (GUI) is a native Microsoft Windows application that can also be used on Mac OS X. The command line Mega is available as native applications for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. They are intended for use in high-throughput and scripted analysis. Both versions are available from www.megasoftware.net free of charge.
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            The neighbor-joining method: a new method for reconstructing phylogenetic trees.

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            A new method called the neighbor-joining method is proposed for reconstructing phylogenetic trees from evolutionary distance data. The principle of this method is to find pairs of operational taxonomic units (OTUs [= neighbors]) that minimize the total branch length at each stage of clustering of OTUs starting with a starlike tree. The branch lengths as well as the topology of a parsimonious tree can quickly be obtained by using this method. Using computer simulation, we studied the efficiency of this method in obtaining the correct unrooted tree in comparison with that of five other tree-making methods: the unweighted pair group method of analysis, Farris's method, Sattath and Tversky's method, Li's method, and Tateno et al.'s modified Farris method. The new, neighbor-joining method and Sattath and Tversky's method are shown to be generally better than the other methods.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                peerj
                PeerJ
                PeerJ Inc. (San Diego, USA )
                2167-8359
                28 October 2022
                2022
                : 10
                : e14195
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica , Taipei, Taiwan
                [2 ]Forest Protection Division, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute , Taipei, Taiwan
                [3 ]Department of Ecological Humanities, Providence University , Taichung, Taiwan
                [4 ]Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica , Taipei, Taiwan
                Article
                14195
                10.7717/peerj.14195
                9620971
                36325176
                bec5f68c-432b-48ee-a617-20ce1060677c
                ©2022 Goh et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

                History
                : 27 July 2020
                : 15 September 2022
                Funding
                Funded by: Academia Sinica, Taiwan
                This research was funded by Academia Sinica, Taiwan. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Conservation Biology
                Ecology
                Entomology
                Taxonomy
                Zoology

                molecular phylogeny,coi,luciola,aquatica,abscondita,wavelength,pyrocoelia,curtos,firefly

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