Eur. J. Entomol. 106 (4): 457-469, 2009 | 10.14411/eje.2009.058

Contrasting levels of polymorphism in cross-amplified microsatellites in two endangered xerothermophilous, obligatorily myrmecophilous, butterflies of the genus Phengaris (Maculinea) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)

Robert RUTKOWSKI1, Marcin SIELEZNIEW2, Agnieszka SZOSTAK3
1 Department of Molecular and Biometrical Techniques, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wilcza 64, PL-00-679 Warszawa, Poland; e-mail: robertrut@miiz.waw.pl
2 Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Institute of Biology, University of Bialystok, Swierkowa 20B, PL-15-950 Białystok, Poland; e-mail: marcins@uwb.edu.pl
3 Ks. St. Konarskiego 15, PL-08-400 Garwolin, Poland

We analysed the polymorphism of cross-amplified microsatellite loci in two endangered butterflies of the genus Phengaris, which inhabit warm grasslands. Specimens of P. arion and P. 'rebeli' collected in Poland showed contrasting levels of variability in the investigated loci. All six tested microsatellites were highly variable in P. arion, whereas in P. 'rebeli' one locus was monomorphic and the other four loci showed a rather low level of polymorphism. Genetic differentiation was small or moderate among P. arion populations and high among P. 'rebeli' populations. We hypothesise that these differences reflect: (1) the relatively high genetic variability of P. arion compared with other members of the genus, indicated by previous studies on allozymes; (2) the small, in the majority of cases, genetic differentiation among populations of P. arion, which suggests recent gene flow; (3) a decrease in the genetic variability and increased isolation of peripheral populations of P. 'rebeli'. In both species, the occurrence of "null" alleles was suggested for some loci, which should be taken into consideration in future studies of the population structure. Additional analysis performed on the corrected frequency of alleles indicated that "null" alleles constitute only a minor problem when estimating genetic differentiation, using FST and AMOVA, however they strongly influence estimates of heterozygosity and FIS, and inferences about the number of genetic groups and assignment of individuals, especially in the case of 'P. rebeli'.

Keywords: Lycaenidae, Phengaris arion, P. rebeli, genetic polymorphism, cross-amplification, Poland

Received: March 9, 2009; Accepted: June 17, 2009; Published: November 20, 2009

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