Large-scale genomic data reveal the phylogeny and evolution of owlet moths (Noctuoidea)


The owlet moths (Noctuoidea; ~43-45K described species) are one of the most ecologically diverse and speciose superfamilies of animals. Moreover, they comprise some of the world's most notorious pests of agriculture and forestry. Despite their contributions to terrestrial biodiversity and impacts on ecosystems and economies, the evolutionary history of Noctuoidea remains unclear because the superfamily lacks a statistically robust phylogenetic and temporal framework. We reconstructed the phylogeny of Noctuoidea using data from 1234 genes (946.4 kb nucleotides) obtained from the genome and transcriptome sequences of 76 species. The relationships among the six families of Noctuoidea were well resolved and consistently recovered based on both concatenation and gene coalescence approaches, supporting the following relationships: Oenosandridae + (Notodontidae + (Erebidae + (Nolidae + (Euteliidae + Noctuidae)))). A Yule tree prior with three unlinked molecular clocks was identified as the preferred BEAST analysis using marginal-likelihood estimations. The crown age of Noctuoidea was estimated at 74.5 Ma, with most families originating before the end of the Paleogene (23 Ma). Our study provides the first statistically robust phylogenetic and temporal framework for Noctuoidea, including all families of owlet moths, based on large-scale genomic data.

Publication Title

Cladistics : the international journal of the Willi Hennig Society