Speciation in North American Junonia from a genomic perspective

Qian Cong, Jing Zhang, Jinhui Shen, Xiaolong Cao, Christian Brévignon, Nick V. Grishin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Delineating species boundaries in phylogenetic groups undergoing recent radiation is a daunting challenge akin to discretizing continuity. Here, we propose a general approach exemplified by American butterflies from the genus Junonia Hübner notorious for the variety of similar phenotypes, ease of hybridization, and the lack of consensus about their classification. We obtain whole-genome shotgun sequences of about 200 specimens. We reason that discreteness emerges from continuity by means of a small number of key players, and search for the proteins that diverged markedly between sympatric populations of different species, while keeping low polymorphism within these species. Being 0.25% of the total number, these three dozen ‘speciation’ proteins indeed partition pairs of Junonia populations into two clusters with a prominent break in between, while all proteins taken together fail to reveal this discontinuity. Populations with larger divergence from each other, comparable to that between two sympatric species, form the first cluster and correspond to different species. The other cluster is characterized by smaller divergence, similar to that between allopatric populations of the same species and comprise conspecific pairs. Using this method, we conclude that J. genoveva (Cramer), J. litoralis Brévignon, J. evarete (Cramer), and J. divaricata C. & R. Felder are restricted to South America. We find that six species of Junonia are present in the United States, one of which is new: Junonia stemosa Grishin, sp.n. (i), found in south Texas and phenotypically closest to J. nigrosuffusa W. Barnes & McDunnough (ii) in its dark appearance. In the pale nudum of the antennal club, these two species resemble J. zonalis C. & R. Felder (iii) from Florida and the Caribbean Islands. The pair of sister species, J. grisea Austin & J. Emmel (iv) and J. coenia Hübner (v), represent the classic west/east U.S.A. split. The mangrove feeder (as caterpillar), dark nudum J. neildi Brévignon (vi) enters south Texas as a new subspecies Junonia neildi varia Grishin ssp.n. characterized by more extensive hybridization with and introgression from J. coenia, and, as a consequence, more variable wing patterns compared with the nominal J. n. neildi in Florida. Furthermore, a new mangrove-feeding species from the Pacific Coast of Mexico is described as Junonia pacoma Grishin sp.n. Finally, genomic analysis suggests that J. nigrosuffusa may be a hybrid species formed by the ancestors of J. grisea and J. stemosa sp.n. This published work has been registered on Zoobank, http://zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:act:C6E70C96-463D-4E6A-95CC-B0384B0EEEBA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-837
Number of pages35
JournalSystematic Entomology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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