Phylogenetic relationships of butterflies of the tribe Acraeini (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae, Heliconiinae) and the evolution of host plant use.Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2008 Feb; 46(2):515-31.MP
The tribe Acraeini (Nymphalidae, Heliconiinae) is believed to comprise between one and seven genera, with the greatest diversity in Africa. The genera Abananote, Altinote, and Actinote (s. str.) are distributed in the Neotropics, while the genera Acraea, Bematistes, Miyana, and Pardopsis have a Palaeotropical distribution. The monotypic Pardopsis use herbaceous plants of the family Violaceae, Acraea and Bematistes feed selectively on plants with cyanoglycosides belonging to many plant families, but preferentially to Passifloraceae, and all Neotropical species with a known life cycle feed on Asteraceae only. Here, a molecular phylogeny is proposed for the butterflies of the tribe Acraeini based on sequences of COI, EF-1alpha and wgl. Both Maximum Parsimony and Bayesian analyses showed that the tribe is monophyletic, once the genus Pardopsis is excluded, since it appears to be related to Argynnini. The existing genus Acraea is a paraphyletic group with regard to the South American genera, and the species of Acraea belonging to the group of "Old World Actinote" is the sister group of the Neotropical genera. The monophyly of South American clade is strongly supported, suggesting a single colonization event of South America. The New World Actinote (s. str.) is monophyletic, and sister to Abananote+Altinote (polyphyletic). Based on the present results it was possible to propose a scenario for the evolution in host plant use within Acraeini, mainly concerning the use of Asteraceae by the South American genera.