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Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: A molecular phylogeny for the leaf-roller moths (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) and its implications for classification and life history evolution

item Regier, J. - University Of Maryland
item Mitter, C. - University Of Maryland
item Brown, John
item Baixeras, J. - University Of Spain
item Cho, S. - Chungbuk National University

Submitted to: Systematic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2011
Publication Date: 4/19/2012
Publication URL:
Citation: Regier, J.C., Mitter, C.E., Brown, J.W., Baixeras, J., Cho, S. 2012. A molecular phylogeny for the leaf-roller moths (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) and its implications for classification and life history evolution. Systematic Entomology. 7(4):4-17.

Interpretive Summary: Caterpillars of the moth family known as “leaf-rollers” feed on a wide variety of ornamental, forest, and crop plants, causing millions of dollars of damage annually and requiring the use of tons of insecticides and other expensive management practices. Knowledge of relationships among the species is critical to developing effective strategies for their detection, exclusion, and control. In this paper we present the first detailed analyses of relationships among members of the family based on DNA sequences. This information will be of interest to evolutionary biologists, scientists involved in predicting invasiveness, and other biologists interested in patterns of host-use and pheromone attraction of these species.

Technical Abstract: Tortricidae, one of the largest families of small moths, comprise about 10,000 species worldwide, including important pests, biological control agents, and experimental models. Tortricid classification at the subfamily and tribal level has been largely stable for two decades. However, our understanding of tortricid phylogeny remains provisional, especially for relationships among the tribes, and progress by morphological analysis has been very limited. We present the first detailed molecular estimate of relationships across the tribes and subfamilies of Tortricidae, sequencing five nuclear genes (6,633 bp) in each of 52 tortricids spanning all three subfamilies and 19 of the 22 tribes, plus 14 additional genes, for a total of 14,826 bp, in 29 of those taxa plus all 14 outgroups. Maximum likelihood analyses yield trees that, within Tortricidae, differ little among data sets and character treatments and are strongly supported at all levels of divergence; the fractions of nodes (51 total) with bootstrap support of =70%, =80% and =90% were 90%, 82% and 76%, respectively. There is strong support for the monophyly of Tortricinae and of Olethreutinae, and for grouping of these to the exclusion of Chlidanotinae. In contrast, there is moderate though not definitive support (bootstraps =70%) for paraphyly of Chlidanotinae, with Polyorthini as sister group to the remaining Tortricidae. Relationships among tribes in Tortricinae are strongly resolved, with Phricanthini as sister group to the remainder, while Euliini are paraphyletic with respect to Cochylini. Within Olethreutinae, there is strong support for Microcorsini as the first tribe to diverge, for a sister group relationship between Grapholitini and Eucosmini, and for paraphyly of Olethreutini with respect to Bactrini+Endotheniini. The position of Enarmoniini is not resolved. Support for several nodes was greatly increased by the additional 14 genes sequenced in just 29 of 52 tortricids, and there was no evidence of phylogenetic artifacts from the deliberately incomplete gene sampling design.