Publication Details

Nelson, L., Lambkin, C. L., Batterham, P., Wallman, J. F., Dowton, M. P., Whiting, M. F., Yeates, D. K. & Cameron, S. L. (2012). Beyond barcoding: A mitochondrial genomics approach to molecular phylogenetics and diagnostics of blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Gene, 511 (2), 131-142.


Members of the Calliphoridae (blowflies) are significant for medical and veterinary management, due to the ability of some species to consume living flesh as larvae, and for forensic investigations due to the ability of others to develop in corpses. Due to the difficulty of accurately identifying larval blowflies to species there is a need for DNA-based diagnostics for this family, however the widely used DNA-barcoding marker, cox1, has been shown to fail for several groups within this family. Additionally, many phylogenetic relationships within the Calliphoridae are still unresolved, particularly deeper level relationships. Sequencing whole mt genomes has been demonstrated both as an effective method for identifying the most informative diagnostic markers and for resolving phylogenetic relationships. Twenty-seven complete, or nearly so, mt genomes were sequenced representing 13 species, seven genera and four calliphorid subfamilies and a member of the related family Tachinidae. PCR and sequencing primers developed for sequencing one calliphorid species could be reused to sequence related species within the same superfamily with success rates ranging from 61% to 100%, demonstrating the speed and efficiency with which an mt genome dataset can be assembled. Comparison of molecular divergences for each of the 13 protein-coding genes and 2 ribosomal RNA genes, at a range of taxonomic scales identified novel targets for developing as diagnostic markers which were 117-200% more variable than the markers which have been used previously in calliphorids. Phylogenetic analysis of whole mt genome sequences resulted in much stronger support for family and subfamily-level relationships. The Calliphoridae are polyphyletic, with the Polleninae more closely related to the Tachinidae, and the Sarcophagidae are the sister group of the remaining calliphorids. Within the Calliphoridae, there was strong support for the monophyly of the Chrysomyinae and Luciliinae and for the sister-grouping of Luciliinae with Calliphorinae. Relationships within Chrysomya were not well resolved. Whole mt genome data, supported the previously demonstrated paraphyly of Lucilia cuprina with respect to L. sericata and allowed us to conclude that it is due to hybrid introgression prior to the last common ancestor of modern sericata populations, rather than due to recent hybridisation, nuclear pseudogenes or incomplete lineage sorting.

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