Entomology, Department of


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Scientific Reports | (2024) 14:7285 | https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-57827-z


Open access.


Tetraopes longhorn beetles are known for their resistance to milkweed plant toxins and their coevolutionary dynamics with milkweed plants (Asclepias). This association is considered a textbook example of coevolution, in which each species of Tetraopes is specialized to feed on one or a few species of Asclepias. A major challenge to investigating coevolutionary hypotheses and conducting molecular ecology studies lies in the limited understanding of the evolutionary history and biogeographical patterns of Tetraopes. By integrating genomic, morphological, paleontological, and geographical data, we present a robust phylogeny of Tetraopes and their relatives, using three inference methods with varying subsets of data, encompassing 2–12 thousand UCE loci. We elucidate the diversification patterns of Tetraopes species across major biogeographical regions and their colonization of the American continent. Our findings suggest that the genus originated in Central America approximately 21 million years ago during the Miocene and diversified from the Mid-Miocene to the Pleistocene. These events coincided with intense geological activity in Central America. Additionally, independent colonization events in North America occurred from the Late Miocene to the early Pleistocene, potentially contributing to the early diversification of the group. Our data suggest that a common ancestor of Tetraopini migrated into North America, likely facilitated by North Atlantic land bridges, while closely related tribes diverged in Asia and Europe during the Paleocene. Establishing a robust and densely sampled phylogeny of Tetraopes beetles provides a foundation for investigating micro- and macroevolutionary phenomena, including clinal variation, coevolution, and detoxification mechanisms in this ecologically important group.

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