U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Date of this Version



Zoologica Scripta. 2019;48:657–666. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/zsc

DOI: 10.1111/zsc.12371


U.S. Government Works


The Asian flea beetles Altica cirsicola, Altica fragariae and Altica viridicyanea are broadly sympatric and morphologically highly similar but feed on distantly related host plants. They have been suggested as a model for ecological speciation stud- ies. However, their phylogeny and species limits remain uncertain. In this study, we added mitochondrial genomes from multiple individuals of each species to the grow- ing database. Phylogenetic analyses based on 15 genes showed clear interspecific divergences of A. fragariae from the other species, but A. cirsicola and A. viridi- cyanea were not distinguishable by distance‐based or tree‐based methods of species delimitation due to non‐monophyly of mitogenomes relative to the morphologically defined entities, possibly affected by interspecific introgression. This was confirmed by wider sampling of mitochondrial COX1 (58 individuals) and the second internal transcribed spacer of nuclear ribosomal RNA cluster (ITS2; 68 individuals), which showed that ITS2, but not COX1, coincided with the morphological species limits. The full mitochondrial genomes are not able to shed further light on the species status, even with the most sensitive approach based on diagnostic characters, yet the whole mitogenome is useful to get improved estimates of intra‐ and interspecific variation, not affected by the stochastic error seen in individual genes.