Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (4): 537-545, 2011 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2011.069

Divergent patterns in the mitochondrial and nuclear diversity of the specialized butterfly Plebejus argus (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)

Marcin SIELEZNIEW1, Donata PONIKWICKA-TYSZKO1,2, Miroslaw RATKIEWICZ3, Izabela DZIEKANSKA4, Agata KOSTRO-AMBROZIAK1, Robert RUTKOWSKI5
1 Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Institute of Biology, University of Bia造stok, Swierkowa 20B, PL-15-950 Bia造stok, Poland; e-mail: marcins@uwb.edu.pl
2 Department of Human Reproduction Biology and Pathology, Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, Sk這dowskiej-Curie 24a, PL-15-276 Bia造stok, Poland
3 Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Institute of Biology, University of Bia造stok, Swierkowa 20B, PL-15-950 Bia造stok, Poland
4 Association for Butterfly Conservation (TOM), Kabacki Dukt 5/101, PL-02-798 Warszawa, Poland
5 Department of Molecular and Biometrical Techniques, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wilcza 64, PL-00-679 Warszawa, Poland

Plebejus argus is a model species for studying the biology, population ecology and genetics of butterflies. It is patchily distributed throughout most of its European range and considered to be sedentary. Habitats of the butterfly have to encompass two vital larval-resources, i.e. specific food plants and ants, since caterpillars are obligatorily myrmecophilous. The genetic structure of nine P. argus populations (85 individuals) was studied at an intermediate geographical scale (Eastern Poland, diameter of about 400 km) using two kinds of molecular markers i.e. COI (mtDNA) and EF-1α (nuclear gene). Both markers were highly variable with as many as 16 haplotypes and 39 alleles, respectively. Great genetic differentiation in the COI gene was detected (overall FST = 0.411, P < 0.001) but little genetic differentiation in the EF-1α gene (FST = 0.021, P < 0.001). The number of COI haplotypes (ranging from one to seven) and their distribution varied considerably among P. argus populations. The possibility that this heterogeneity was related to Wolbachia was excluded as this endoparasitic bacterium was not detected in samples from any of the populations studied. PCA and SAMOVA analyses divided the sampled populations into two or three groups, which could indicate different colonization routes. Moreover, the differences in genetic differentiation with respect to mtDNA and nuclear markers may suggest male-biased dispersal of P. argus at a larger scale. The hypothesis that females are philopatric is consistent with direct observations of the restricted colonization abilities of the butterfly, while the relatively homogeneous genetic structure revealed by previous allozyme studies in some areas might be explained by the possible higher mobility of males.

Keywords: Lycaenidae, Plebejus argus, mtDNA, EF-1a gene, COI, population structure, phylogeography, sex-biased dispersal

Received: November 2, 2010; Accepted: April 11, 2011; Published: October 3, 2011

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