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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13(8), 10441-10460; doi:10.3390/ijms130810441

Species Differentiation of Chinese Mollitrichosiphum (Aphididae: Greenideinae) Driven by Geographical Isolation and Host Plant Acquirement
Ruiling Zhang 1,2,, Xiaolei Huang 1,, Liyun Jiang 1, Fumin Lei 1 and Gexia Qiao 1,*
Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; E-Mails: (R.Z.); (X.H.); (L.J.); (F.L.)
Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail:; Tel./Fax: +86-10-6480-7133.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
; in revised form: 2 August 2012 / Accepted: 3 August 2012 /
Published: 21 August 2012


: The impact of both the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) and the separation of the Taiwan and Hainan Islands on the evolution of the fauna and flora in adjacent regions has been a topic of considerable interest. Mollitrichosiphum is a polyphagous insect group with a wide range of host plants (14 families) and distributions restricted to Southeast Asia. Based on the mitochondrial Cytochrome C Oxidase Subunit I (COI) and Cytochrome b (Cytb) genes, the nuclear elongation factor-1α (EF-1α) gene, and the detailed distribution and host plant data, we investigated the species differentiation modes of the Chinese Mollitrichosiphum species. Phylogenetic analyses supported the monophyly of Mollitrichosiphum. The divergence time of Mollitrichosiphum tenuicorpus (c. 11.0 mya (million years ago)), Mollitrichosiphum nandii and Mollitrichosiphum montanum (c. 10.6 mya) was within the time frame of the uplift of the QTP. Additionally, basal species mainly fed on Fagaceae, while species that fed on multiple plants diverged considerably later. Ancestral state reconstruction suggests that Fagaceae may be the first acquired host, and the acquisition of new hosts and the expansion of host range may have promoted species differentiation within this genus. Overall, it can be concluded that geographical isolation and the expansion of the host plant range may be the main factors driving species differentiation of Mollitrichosiphum.
aphid; divergence time; geographical isolation; host plant; Mollitrichosiphum; phylogeny; Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau; southern China; speciation

1. Introduction

Southern China is characterized by a complex topography and represents the major biodiversity hotspots [1]. This region includes several mountain chains (i.e., the Wuyi, Nanling and Hengduan Mountains) and two islands (Taiwan and Hainan). The uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), which strongly influenced the environment of the plateau and its surrounding areas, as well as the climate in Asia and across the globe, was one of the most important events in the Earth’s geological history [24]. The recent violent uplifts of the QTP during the Quaternary initiated the formation of mountain and valley glaciers in many areas [2,5,6], both the Taiwan and Hainan Islands were repeatedly connected and separated with the mainland following the glacial and interglacial cycle over the past million years [7]. It has been suggested that these events greatly influenced the biogeography of the fauna and flora in this region and the surrounding areas [79].

Studies based on distribution data have indicated that the Hengduan Mountains, north of the Sichuan and Yunnan Province, and the Hainan and Taiwan Islands are diversity centers for birds, amphibians, insects and plants [1015]. These studies, which are based on distribution records, described the primary spatial diversity patterns in southern China. However, research based on phylogeny and a time-calibrated framework is required to understand the evolutionary history of the species diversity in this region. To date, some phylogeographical studies have been performed in southern China, especially focused on plants [1618], mammals [19], birds [2022] and reptiles [23]. However, few of these reports discussed the biogeographical patterns beyond the species level and across a wide geographical range.

The aphid genus Mollitrichosiphum (Aphididae, Greenideinae) was described by Suenaga in 1934, based the description on the numerous transverse ridges on the hind tibiae, six elongated antennal segments and a pointed ultimate rostral segment. Mollitrichosiphum contains 18 known species, based on the different lengths and distributions of the setae on the antenna and the shape of the radial sector. This genus is divided into two subgenera, namely, Mollitrichosiphum and Metatrichosiphon [24,25]. The hosts of this genus belong to the plant families Fagaceae and Betulaceae, as well as to 12 other families (Table 1). While the host plant of Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) kazirangi is unknown, it has been demonstrated that 14 species of Mollitrichosiphum feed on Fagaceae. Three (out of four) species of the subgenus Mollitrichosiphum feed exclusively on Fagaceae, while the species of the subgenus Metatrichosiphon display higher host diversity. For example, Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) rhusae and Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) nandii infest plants belonging to four families (Anacardiaceae, Proteaceae, Meliaceae and Fagaceae; Betulaceae, Lauraceae, Sapindaceae and Fagaceae, respectively), and Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) montanum and Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) nigrum (Betulaceae, Juglandaceae and Fagaceae; Sabiaceae, Simaroubaceae and Elaeagnaceae, respectively) feed on plants belonging to three different families.

Mollitrichosiphum is mainly distributed throughout Southeast Asia (Table S1). The subgenus Mollitrichosiphum is restricted to Nepal, northeastern India (Sikkim) and the southern edge of the QTP, which is characterized by a notably complex mountainous topography. Most species of the subgenus Metatrichosiphon are primarily distributed in the eastern region of Southeast Asia. Twelve known species in China can be assigned to three distribution patterns: widespread throughout southern China (Mollitrichosiphum (Mollitrichosiphum) tenuicorpus), the Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains (Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) montanum and Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) nandi) and southeast of China (Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) rhusae, Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) luchuanum, Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) nigrofasciatum, Mollitrichosiphum (Metatrichosiphon) nigrum and Mollitrichosiphum sp.). These patterns provide the opportunity to determine the relative effects of geographical isolation caused by both the uplift of the QTP and the separation of the islands on the differentiation of these species.

Previous studies of this genus were alpha-taxonomic, and species descriptions based on morphology [2529]. Zhang et al. [30] primarily investigated the phylogenetic relationships of seven Chinese Mollitrichosiphum species based on the mitochondrial Cytochrome C Oxidase Subunit I (COI) and Cytochrome b (Cytb) genes. Their results indicated that the widespread species, M. tenuicorpus, may consist of three cryptic species, which are isolated by the Tibetan Plateau and Lancang River. However, these results require further investigation with additional data to elucidate the relationship between the species of this genus and the effects of host plants on species divergence.

Based on the geographic distribution and host plant use data of Mollitrichosiphum, we hypothesized that both geographical isolation and host plant diversity may have played important roles in species differentiation of Mollitrichosiphum in southern China. To test this hypothesis, we used extensive sampling and combined mitochondrial (COI, Cytb) and nuclear (elongation factor-1α, EF-1α) data to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships of the Chinese Mollitrichosiphum species. We also estimated the divergence times of Mollitrichosiphum using a Bayesian approach to evaluate the potential relationship between species divergence, geological events and host plant evolution.

2. Results and Discussion

2.1. Results

2.1.1. Phylogenetic Analyses

We used mitochondrial gene COI, Cytb, and nuclear gene EF-1α to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships of Mollitrichosiphum. All sequences were submitted to GenBank (see Table 2 for accession numbers). The detailed characters of the individual sequences and the combined dataset are listed in Table 3. The monophyly of the sampled Mollitrichosiphum species was supported by all phylogenetic analyses. The results based on the combined dataset of COI and Cytb were similar to that of a previous study [30] (data not shown here). Phylogenetic trees based on EF-1α sequences and the combined dataset of the EF-1α and mitochondrial genes are shown in Figure 1. In the phylogenetic analyses based on the EF-1α gene, four representatives of Thelaxinae, Cervaphidini and Greenideini were used to root the trees. Maximum parsimony (MP), maximum likelihood (ML) and Bayesian (BI) analyses yielded congruent trees, and the tree obtained from the ML analysis is shown (Figure 1A). The monophyly of the genus Mollitichosiphum was highly supported (MP/ML/BI: 82/93/1.00). Three samples of Greenideini, Cervaphidini and Thelaxinae were used as outgroups in the Bayesian and ML analyses of the combined dataset. The combined dataset also supported the monophyly of this genus (ML/BI: 80/1.00) and of most species (Figure 1B). All analyses supported the sister relationship between M. nandii and M. montanum. Interestingly, the samples of M. luchuanum and M. rhusae clustered together and formed a paraphyletic clade in the phylogenetic tree based on the EF-1α, while the two species could be distinguished in the trees based on combined datasets of the two mitochondrial genes as well as the total three genes. Moreover, the position of M. nigrum as a sister clade of M. luchuanum and M. rhusae is well-supported by all analyses. The basal position of Mollitrichosiphum sp. in the subgenus Metatrichosiphon is well-supported in the combined dataset, although the supports were lower than 50% with the EF-1α gene. The phylogenetic relationships of M. nigrofasciatum with other species are uncertain. In the EF-1α tree, M. nigrofasciatum grouped together with M. nigrum, M. rhusae and M. luchuanum (bootstrap values and posterior probabilities were all lower than 50%), and based on the combined dataset, this species forms a sister clade with M. nigrum, M. rhusae, M. luchuanum, M. montanum and M. nandii (ML/BI: 76/0.86). In the phylogenetic analyses based on the combined dataset, the samples of M. tenuicorpus were subdivided into three major clades (Figure 1B), which was also supported by the results obtained with EF-1α to some extent (Figure 1A).

2.1.2. Divergence Time and Geographical Distribution

The divergence times were estimated based on the mitochondrial and nuclear data separately, and the mean age estimates of most nodes were largely consistent. The molecular dating results indicate that clade A within M. tenuicorpus diverged at approximately 11.0 mya (95% Highest Posterior Density, HPD: 5.5–16.4 mya) (Figure 2), while clades B and C diverged at 8.2 mya (HPD: 3.7–13.1 mya). The ancestors of Mollitrichosiphum sp. and the other species of subgenus Metatrichosiphon diverged at approximately 15.8 mya (HPD: 10.8–18.6 mya). The most recent common ancestors (MRCAs) of the other six species were 13.6 mya (HPD: 8.4–17.6 mya). Divergence among the individuals of six species (M. rhusae, M. nigrum, M. nandii, M. luchuanum, M. nigrofasciatum and M. montanum) were between 10.6 mya (HPD: 6.2–15.1 mya) and 3.9 mya (HPD: 0.7–8.2 mya), with M. nigrofasciatum exhibiting the earliest within species divergence (5.3 mya), and MRCAs of M. montanum and M. nandii was estimated at 7.0 mya (HPD: 3.1–12.0 mya). M. tenuicorpus widespread from northeastern India, southern China, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and Korea (Table S1); ranges of other seven species appear to be constrained. M. montanum and M. nandii are distributed on the south edge of the QTP and Hengduan Moutians; M. luchuanum, M. nigrum, M. nigrofasciatum, M. rhusae and Mollitrichosiphum sp. are limited to southeastern China. Among them, M. rhusae and Mollitrichosiphum sp. are distributed in the Hainan and Taiwan islands, respectively. Distributions of these species were mapped roughly in Figure 2.

2.1.3. Ancestral State Reconstruction

According to collection records of specimens and published reliable literature [25,27,31], we summarized host plants of other 18 species in Mollitrichosiphum. Except for the host plant of M. kazirangi still unknown, the hosts of all other species related to 14 families were listed in Table 1. Host plants of Metatrichosiphon have high diversity, referring to all 14 families mentioned above. While in the subgenus Mollitrichosiphum, three species are all restricted on Fagaceae and just a few samples of widespread species, M. tenuicorpus feed on plants of Betulaceae and Sabiaceae.

The results of ancestral state reconstruction suggest that Fagaceae was highly favored among all host plants. Node 61 and 77 (Figure 3), which are the MRCAs of the subgenus Metatrichosiphon and Mollitrichosiphum, showed high proportion of Fagaceae, 0.99 and 0.97, respectively; thereby the common ancestor of Mollitrichosiphum (node 78, 0.99) feeds on Fagaceae received strong support.

2.2. Discussion

2.2.1. Phylogenetic Relationships

The monophyly of the genus Mollitrichosiphum was supported by phylogenetic analyses based on different approaches and genes (Figure 1). The phylogenetic trees of the combined dataset supported the division of the two subgenera (Mollitrichosiphum and Metatrichosiphon) based on morphological characters [24,25]. The molecular phylogenetic relationships between the species were also supported by morphological characters, such as the ultimate rostral segments of M. luchuanum, M. rhusae and M. nigrum, which are at least twice the length of the second hind tarsal segment, while the ultimate rostral segment of M. nandii and M. montanum are not more than twice the length of the second hind tarsal segment.

The phylogenetic placement of M. nigrofasciatum with respect to the other species remains undetermined, as the results based on different datasets were inconclusive. A possible explanation for the incongruent patterns of M. nigrofasciatum is incomplete lineage sorting during successive speciation events. However, more data and further study are needed to verify the real reasons that contribute to these results. Thus, additional markers are required for future studies to reveal the position of M. nigrofasciatum. Analysis of the EF-1α gene yielded a paraphyletic clade that included M. luchuanum and M. rhusae, while the combined datasets resulted in independent clades of the two species. This finding may be explained by the differential effectiveness of the genes. The nuclear EF-1α gene is usually used as a marker to investigate the phylogenetic relationship of aphids above the genus level, due to its slow rate of evolution, whereas the mitochondrial genes are more suitable for revealing the relationships at intra- and interspecies levels [32]. M. luchuanum and M. rhusae may have diverged recently, therefore, only mitochondrial genes may provide phylogenetic signals.

2.2.2. Divergence Times and Biogeography

Southern China, which appears to be a center of diversity for Mollitrichosiphum, has experienced great topographical and climatic changes during the past million years. Estimated divergence times of this genus provide a reasonable temporal framework to reconstruct historical patterns of species divergence and distribution. Despite a degree of controversy regarding the exact timing of the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau [33], geological estimates date the period of rapid uplift unequivocally within the Late Tertiary/mid-Miocene [34], and episodes of uplift probably continued throughout the Late Pliocene (c. 3 mya) and into the Quaternary [5,35]. Clade A within M. tenuicorpus (Figure 2) is only currently distributed throughout the QTP, for which the divergence time was at approximately 11.0 mya, thereby falling within the time frame of the mid-Miocene uplift of the QTP. The clade including M. nandii and M. montanum was restricted to the Hengduan Mountains, which are located in the southeastern region of the QTP, and diverged from other species at approximately 10.6 mya (HPD: 6.2–15.1 mya). This result indicates that the distribution of these two species was probably also influenced by the uplift of the QTP.

The divergence of clades B and C within M. tenuicorpus was estimated at approximately 8.2 mya (Figure 2). These two clades are distributed east or west side of the Lancang River [30], which concurs with the long-held notion that the “Mekong-Salween Divide” (MSD) acted as a significant historical and geographical barrier to species dispersal [18,36,37]. The rivers located at the southeast margin of the Tibetan Plateau, the Dadu River, Mekong (Lancang River), Salween (Nu River), and Tsangpo-Brahmaputra (Yalu-Tsangpo River), were once tributaries of a single southward flowing river system, the Paleo-Honghe (Red River). The uplift of the Tibetan Plateau dramatically changed the characteristics of the major river drainages [38]. Time scales of formation of the MSD have rarely been estimated [18], thereby providing little insight into whether there is a direct link between the divergence of the B and C clades with the formation of the MSD. However, these historical events may have isolated the populations of M. tenuicorpus and stimulated differentiation among the populations.

M. rhusae and Mollitrichosiphum sp. are restrictedly distributed in the Hainan Island and Taiwan Island, respectively. The MRCAs of these two species are estimated at approximately 3.9 mya and 15.8 mya, respectively. Based on the results of geological studies, Hainan Island was first separated from the mainland of China during the Early Pleistocene (c. 2 mya) [7], and Taiwan Island was separated approximately 5 mya [39]. The divergence times show that the MRCAs of M. rhusae and Mollitrichosiphum sp. originated much earlier than the separation of the two islands. These results indicate that the geographical isolation of the two islands was probably not the primary factor triggering the differentiation of the two species. However, the isolation may have limited the subsequent species dispersal between the islands and mainland and thereby promoted the present distribution pattern. Although both islands were connected to the mainland when the sea level retreated during the Pleistocene, it has been suggested that the flora covering the emerged areas during the glaciations were poorly developed [40] and not suitable for aphid species dependent on woody host plants.

Fossils of Mollitrichosiphum have been found exclusively in Europe, while all extant species of this genus are currently restricted to Southeast Asia [25,41]. Peñalver et al. [42] demonstrated that the geographic ranges of Greenideinae were markedly wider during the Miocene and comprised the northern coasts of the Tethys Sea. During the Lower and Middle Miocene, the southern region of Europe was characterized by a hot subtropical climate. The terrestrial plant communities of Europe were dominated by needle-leaved forests, Cupressaceae species, and some broadleaf forest species [41]. Later geological events, such as the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau, affected both the climatic conditions of southern Europe and the composition of the flora [43]. During this period, a suitable climate and host plants for Mollitrichosiphum disappeared [44,45]. However, the climate in Southeast Asia remained unchanged. This may have determined the current distribution pattern of Mollitrichosiphum in southeastern Asia, including southern China.

2.2.3. Species Differentiation of Chinese Mollitrichosiphum

Speciation processes are generally driven by the advent of barriers to gene flow between interbreeding populations [46,47]. The life history of many phytophagous insects often depends on specific host plants. Differences in host plant preference can result in reproductive isolation [48]. For example, studies of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum demonstrated that species differentiation occurred among different populations that fed on pea, clover and alfalfa [49,50].

Phylogenetic analyses show that Mollitrichosiphum sp. and M. nigrofasciatum are two basal clades in the subgenus Metatrichosiphon; together with M. tenuicorpus, these three species mainly feed on Fagaceae. The divergence times of these species were 15.8 mya, 10.6 mya and 18.4 mya, respectively (Figure 2), which are much earlier than the other species. In contrast, the host plants of a younger clade (with an age of 7.7 mya) including M. nigrum, M. rhusae and M. luchuanum are distinct (Table 1), and each of the three aphid species has hosts belonging to at least two plant families. Similarly, the sister species M. nandii and M. montanum with divergence times of 3.5 mya and 1.5 mya, are associated with host plants belonging to three and four families, respectively. It seems that these species have acquired a wider range of host plants during their evolutionary history.

The phylogenetic pattern of host association shows that basal species much more exclusively feed on Fagaceae, which is a common host plant for most species. Results of ancestral state reconstruction also supported the fact that Fagaceae may be the ancestral host plant of Mollitrichosiphum. Notably for the subgenus Metatrichosiphon, the acquisition of new hosts and the expansion of the host range might be the main factor driving species differentiation. Of the species in the subgenus Mollitrichosiphum, M. tenuicorpus is widely distributed in Southeast Asia and southern China, while the other three species are restrictedly distributed in Nepal, the northeastern region of India (Sikkim), and the southern edge of the QTP [25,27,31]. The divergence of the three clades within M. tenuicorpus (Figure 2) may be due to the combined effects of geographical isolation (as discussed above) and the differentiation of host plants (clade A on Betulaceae, clade B on Sabiaceae and Fagaceae, and clade C on Fagaceae). However, it seems that geographical isolation probably represents the key factor promoting the species divergence of the subgenus Mollitrichosiphum.

3. Experimental Section

3.1. Taxa Sampling

We sampled the Chinese Mollitrichosiphum species except for four species with very restricted distributions (M. glaucae, Hong Kong; M. niitakaensis, and M. taiwanum, Taiwan; M. yamabiwae, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Fujian). Mollitrichosiphum sp. is an undescribed species found in Taiwan Island (unpublished data), and can be distinguished from all other species of Mollitrichosiphum by an enlarged distal half of siphunculi. Specimens for slide-mounting were stored in 75% ethanol for morphological examination. Samples for molecular experiments were stored in 95% ethanol. All the samples were preserved at −30 °C. On the basis of current knowledge of the phylogenetic relationships within Aphididae [51,52], outgroups were chosen from Cervaphis van der Goot (Cervaphidini), Eutrichosiphum Essig & Kuwana (Greenideini), Greenidea Schouteden (Greenideini) and Kurisakia Takahashi (Thelaxinae), respectively. All voucher specimens were deposited in the National Zoological Museum of China (NZMC), Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing). Collection information for all samples, including collection localities, host plants and collection dates are listed in Table 2.

3.2. DNA Extraction, PCR and Sequencing

CTAB DNA isolation technique [53] was used to extract genomic DNA. A 700 bp fragment of COI was amplified using primers LepF (5′-ATTCAACCAATCATAAAGATATTGG-3′) and LepR (5′-TAAACTTCTGGATGTCCAAAAAATCA-3′) from Foottit et al. [54]. About 800bp of Cytb was amplified using primers Cp1 (5′-GATGATGAAATTTTGGATC-3′) and Cp2 (5′-CTAATGCAATAACTCCTCC-3′) from Harry et al. [55]. The primers for amplifying EF-1α were EF3 (5′-GAACGTGAACGTGGTATCAC-3′) and EF2 (5′-ATGTGAGCAGTGTGGCAATCCAA-3′) [56]. PCRs (Polymerase Chain Reaction-amplification) for Cytb was performed in 30 μL reaction volumes: 3 μL 10 × PCR buffer, 2.4 μL dNTPs, 20 μL dd H2O, 0.4 unit Taq DNA polymerase (all from TransGen Biotech, Beijing, China) and 0.6 μL 10 μM forward and reverse primers (synthesized by Invitrogen Biotech, Shanghai, China). PCR volumes for COI were the same as that for Cytb, except for 19.4 μL dd H2O and 0.8 μM primers. The PCR amplification cycling conditions for COI were as follows: 95 °C for 5 min; 34 cycles including denaturation at 95 °C for 0.5 min, annealing at 52 °C for 0.5 min, and extension at 72 °C for 1 min; followed by 72 °C for 10 min. Thermocycling program for Cytb consisted of 95 °C for 3 min; 35 cycles of 92 °C for 1 min, 48 °C for 1.5 min and 72 °C for 1 min. A final extension step of 10 min at 72 °C was added after cycling. PCR thermal regime for EF-1α was initial denaturation at 95 °C for 4 min, 35 cycles including denaturation at 94 °C for 1 min, annealing at 50 °C for 1 min, and extension at 72 °C for 1.5 min, and final extension at 72 °C for 10 min. Sequencing reactions were performed using the same primers that were used for PCRs using ABI 3730 automated sequencer (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA).

3.3. Sequence Alignment and Phylogenetic Analyses

The sequences were assembled using Seqman II (DNASTAR) and assessed manually. Multiple alignments were performed using ClustalX 1.81 [57]. Nucleotide composition, conserved sites, variable sites, and parsimony informative sites were calculated using MEGA 4 [58]. For the EF-1α gene, we used the coding regions in the phylogenetic analyses. The intronic sequences were removed using the GT-AG rule and by comparing the sequences with the cDNA sequence of Mollitrichosiphum montanum (GenBank accession number: DQ493826). The combined dataset of the COI, Cytb and EF-1α genes was evaluated with the partition homogeneity test implemented with PAUP* 4.10b [59] using random taxon addition (10 replicates), tree bisection-reconnection branch swapping, and heuristic searches with 100 random repartitions of the data.

Phylogenetic analyses were conducted in PAUP* 4.10b and MrBayes 3.1.2 [60]. Maximum parsimony (MP) analysis was conducted for all datasets independently, EF-1α and the combined datasets of COI + Cytb and COI + Cytb + EF-1α, using a heuristic search with 1000 random sequence repetitions and tree-bisection-reconnection (TBR) branch swapping. Consensus trees (50% majority rule) were obtained if more than one equally maximum parsimonious tree was found. The reliability of the MP trees was tested using the bootstrap approach [61] with 1000 pseudoreplicates using the heuristic search strategy and 100 random additions of sequences in each pseudoreplicate. Modeltest 3.7 [62] was used to determine the best-fit nucleotide substitution model for maximum likelihood (ML) analyses. The best models selected according to the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) [63] for the combined dataset of mitochondrial genes and EF-1α, the combined mitochondrial dataset, and EF-1α were GTR + I + G, GTR + G and GTR + G, respectively. ML analysis was performed using PHYML [64], and nodal support among branches was evaluated by bootstrap analysis. Bayesian analysis was performed separately on the EF-1α gene and the combined dataset of three genes using the models selected by Modeltest 3.7. The combined dataset was partitioned into mitochondrial versus nuclear sequences and with separate models. Four chains were run starting from a random tree and proceeded for one million Markov chain Monte Carlo generations with tree sampling every 100 generations. Four independent runs were conducted to verify the results. The first 2500 trees (25% of the total) were discarded as burn-in. Next, 50% majority-rule consensus trees were generated from the remaining trees. The examination of the log-likelihood scores and the average standard deviation of the split frequencies suggested that the burn-in periods were long enough for chains to become stationary.

Results of the partition-homogeneity test indicated that nuclear versus mitochondrial alignments were incongruent (P = 0.01). However, because each gene provided similar tree topology, we still performed phylogenetic analyses based on the combined dataset. For Bayesian analysis, partitions were made for each gene separately using their own parameters derived from Modeltest.

3.4. Divergence Time Estimation and Ancestral State Reconstruction

To date, the only fossil species of this genus was Mollitrichosiphum rubusensis [41], which was found in Europe and dates back to 18–19 mya (million years ago). This time was used as a calibration point representing the minimum age of the most recent common ancestors (MRCAs) of this genus in our study. The divergence times among species were estimated using BEAST v1.6.1 [65] under a relaxed molecular clock and uncorrelated lognormal model. The GTR model of nucleotide substitution with gamma rate heterogeneity among sites and a proportion of invariant sites and Yule speciation process were used.

After determining the optimal parameters over several preliminary runs, multiple analyses were run for 10 million generations, and 25% of samples were removed as burn-in. The results were visualized in Tracer v1.5 [66], where the stationarity was assessed by ensuring that the Effective Sample Size (ESS) values were high for most parameters. The results proved repeatable over multiple independent runs, and thus a chronogram was reconstructed based on the results from a representative single run and was subsequently visualized using the program Fig Tree v1.3.1 [67].

Host plants of the genus Mollitrichosiphum were reconstructed according to a Bayesian criterion, using RASP 2.0 (Reconstruct Ancestal State in Phylogenies) software to implements Bayesian Binary MCMC (BBM). BBM offers a statistical procedure for inferring states, including geographic distributions, at ancestral nodes using a full hierarchical Bayesian approach [68]. For reconstruction of the ancestral state of host plants, each possible host plant of the species was coded based on the previous plants they fed on.

4. Conclusions

The monophyly of Mollitrichosiphum and most inter-species phylogenetic relationships were supported by molecular data as well as morphological characters. The sister relationships of M. nandii and M. montanum, M. luchuanum, M. rhusae with M. nigrum were supported in all analyses. Based on the divergence times, distribution and host plant information of the species, we speculate that geographical isolation due to the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and the separation of the Hainan and Taiwan islands, as well as the expansion of host plant range may be the main factors driving differentiation of Chinese Mollitrichosiphum species and shaping their current distribution patterns.

Supplementary Materials



We thank Na Zhao, Lin Liu and Zhe Wang for assistance in molecular techniques and data analysis. We are grateful to Dong Zhang, Xingya Wang, Huihong Zhang, Xiaomei Su, Qinghua Liu, Jing Chen, Yan Fang, Hecai Zhang for collecting samples, and to Fendi Yang for preparing aphid slides. The work was supported by the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (Nos. 31061160186, 30830017, 30900133), National Science Funds for Distinguished Young Scientists (No. 31025024), National Science Fund for Fostering Talents in Basic Research (No. J0930004), a grant (No. O529YX5105) from the Key Laboratory of the Zoological Systematics and Evolution of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China (MOST GRANT No. 2011FY120200).


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Figure 1. Phylogenetic relationships of Mollitichosiphum species based on Maximum likelihood analysis of the EF-1α sequences (A) and combined dataset of Cytochrome C Oxidase Subunit I (COI), Cytochrome b (Cytb) and Elongation Factor-1α (EF-1α) sequences (B). Bootstrap values (≥50%) for maximum parsimony (MP), maximum likelihood (ML) are shown above the branches, Bayesian posterior probabilities (≥50%) are shown below the branches. In Figure 1B, italic scripts of A, B and C represent the three clades in M. tenuicorpus.

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Figure 1. Phylogenetic relationships of Mollitichosiphum species based on Maximum likelihood analysis of the EF-1α sequences (A) and combined dataset of Cytochrome C Oxidase Subunit I (COI), Cytochrome b (Cytb) and Elongation Factor-1α (EF-1α) sequences (B). Bootstrap values (≥50%) for maximum parsimony (MP), maximum likelihood (ML) are shown above the branches, Bayesian posterior probabilities (≥50%) are shown below the branches. In Figure 1B, italic scripts of A, B and C represent the three clades in M. tenuicorpus.
Ijms 13 10441f1a 1024Ijms 13 10441f1b 1024
Ijms 13 10441f2 1024
Figure 2. A chronogram of the Chinese Mollitrichosiphum species based on the combined COI and Cytb genes. Median age estimates are shown behind nodes (mya). Italic scripts of A, B and C represent three clades in M. tenuicorpus. Clades were marked with colours corresponding to the distributions of samples, and colour boundaries indicate the distribution ranges of clades. Host plant information was given following the sample names, with Fagaceae indicated in red, “--” represents host plants that are unknown. Locality abbreviated in capital letters: XZ, Tibet; YN, Yunnan; HN, Hainan; GX, Guangxi; FJ, Fujian; GD, Guangdong; ZJ, Zhejiang; HuN, Hunan; SC, Sichuan.

Click here to enlarge figure

Figure 2. A chronogram of the Chinese Mollitrichosiphum species based on the combined COI and Cytb genes. Median age estimates are shown behind nodes (mya). Italic scripts of A, B and C represent three clades in M. tenuicorpus. Clades were marked with colours corresponding to the distributions of samples, and colour boundaries indicate the distribution ranges of clades. Host plant information was given following the sample names, with Fagaceae indicated in red, “--” represents host plants that are unknown. Locality abbreviated in capital letters: XZ, Tibet; YN, Yunnan; HN, Hainan; GX, Guangxi; FJ, Fujian; GD, Guangdong; ZJ, Zhejiang; HuN, Hunan; SC, Sichuan.
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Ijms 13 10441f3 1024
Figure 3. Ancestral state reconstruction of host plants in Mollitrichosiphum. The topology is derived from the ML tree of Figure 1A. Pie charts indicate the relative likelihoods at respective nodes. Terminal taxa are color-coded for the state of host use. The black part in the pie represents probability lower than 5%.

Click here to enlarge figure

Figure 3. Ancestral state reconstruction of host plants in Mollitrichosiphum. The topology is derived from the ML tree of Figure 1A. Pie charts indicate the relative likelihoods at respective nodes. Terminal taxa are color-coded for the state of host use. The black part in the pie represents probability lower than 5%.
Ijms 13 10441f3 1024
Table Table 1. Host plants of eighteen species in the genus Mollitrichosiphum.

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Table 1. Host plants of eighteen species in the genus Mollitrichosiphum.
SubgeneraSpeciesHost plants (Family)
MollitrichosiphumM. godavariense1Fagaceae

M. nigriabdominalis1Fagaceae

M. tenuicorpus3Fagaceae



M. trilokum1Fagaceae

MetatrichosiphonM. buddleiae2Buddlejaceae


M. kazirangi1unknown

M. montanum3Betulaceae



M. nandii4Betulaceae




M. rhusae4Anacardiaceae




M. elongatum1Fagaceae

M. syzygii1Myrtaceae

M. luchuanum2Rosaceae


M. nigrofasciatum1Fagaceae

M. nigrum3Sabiaceae



M. yamabiwae1Sabiaceae

M. niitakaensis1Fagaceae

M. glaucae1Fagaceae

M. taiwanum1Sabiaceae

Mollitrichosiphum sp.1Fagaceae
Table Table 2. Mollitrichosiphum samples examined in this study and related information.

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Table 2. Mollitrichosiphum samples examined in this study and related information.
SpeciesVoucher No.LocalityDatesHost plantGenBank accession Nos: COI/Cytb/EF-1α
M. tenuicorpus (Okajima)20938Hainan: Jianfengling Mt.25 March 2008Castanopsis fabri (Fagaceae)JF969334/JF969383/JN645046
13361Yunnan: Baoshan City20 September 2002Meliosma rigida (Sabiaceae)JF969308/JF969357/JN645020
24074Yunnan: Ruili City2 December 2009Castanopsis calathiformis (Fagaceae)JF969339/JF969388/JQ418332
24067Yunnan: Ruili City3 December 2009Castanopsis calathiformis (Fagaceae)JF969343/JF969392/JQ418331
14421Fujian: Wuyishan Mt.6 July 2003Castanea sp. (Fagaceae)JF969311/JF969360/JN645042
14537Fujian: Wuyishan Mt.19 July 2003Castanopsis sclerophylla (Fagaceae)JF969313/JF969362/JN645043
18506Hainan: Diaoluoshan Mt.29 March 2006Cyclobalanopsis neglecta (Fagaceae)JF969321/JF969370/JQ418327
19242Hainan: Changjiang County26 March 2007FagaceaeJF969327/JF969376/JN645045
20866Hainan: Jianfengling Mt.15 December 2007FagaceaeJF969333/JF969382/JN645030
22152Fujian: Nanjing County23 November 2008unknownJF969335/JF969384/JN645037
22155Fujian: Huboliao District23 November 2008unknownJF969336/JF969385/JN645038
19521Hainan: Jianfengling Mt.16 November 2006Quercus sp. (Fagaceae)JF969329/JF969378/JN645048
22166Fujian: Huboliao District25 November 2008unknownJF969337/JF969386/JN645039
26029Guangxi: Huaping County1 November 2010Castanopsis eyrei (Fagaceae)JN644999/JN645015/JN645054
26261Guangxi: Shiwandashan Mt.19 November 2010Castanopsis fargesii Franch. (Fagaceae)JN645000/JN645016/JN645050
22161Fujian: Huboliao District24 November 2008unknownJN644997/JN645013/JN645041
24964Guangxi: Damin Mt.28 May 2011FagaceaeJQ418333
18614Guangdong: Chebaling District13 April 2006Castanopsis carlesii (Fagaceae)JF969347/JF969396/JN645049
20530Yunnan: Simao City27 July 2007Castanopsis ferox (Fagaceae)JF969330/JF969379/JN645028
15381Tibet: Motuo County14 August 2003Alnus cremastogyne (Betulaceae)JF969317/JF969366/JN645044
18892Guangxi: Guilin City18 May 2006FagaceaeJF969348/JF969397/JN645025
26892Fujian: Wuyishan Mt.15 June 2011FagaceaeJQ418339
26270Guangxi: Shangsi Country20 November 2010FagaceaeJQ418313/JQ418317/JQ418334
26906Fujian: Jiangle Country17 June 2011FagaceaeJQ418340
M. nigrum (Zhang & Qiao)14417Fujian: Wuyishan Mt.6 July 2003Elaeagnus pungens (Elaeagnaceae)JF969310/JF969359/JN645052
19258Guangxi: Xingan County2 July 2006Ailanthus altissima (Simaroubaceae)JF969328/JF969377/JN645027
21845Hunan: Mangshan Mt.17 July 2008unknownJF969341/JF969390/JN645032
21856Guangdong: Nanling Mt.18 July 2008unknownJF969342/JF969391/JN645033
18913Guangxi: Longsheng County21 May 2006Meliosma cuneifolia (Sabiaceae)JF969326/JF969375/JN645026
21872Guangdong: Nanling Mt.19 July 2008unknownJN644995/JN645011/JN645035
14405Fujian: Wuyishan Mt.4 July 2003Castanea sp.(Fagaceae)JN644988/JN645004/JN645019
M. nandii (Busu)14712Yunnan: Baoshan City27 October 2003Alnus cremastogyne (Betulaceae)JF969315/JF969364/JQ418318
18382Tibet: Tongmai District31 August 2005Fagus longipetiolata (Fagaceae)JF969320/JF969369/JQ418323
M. nigrofasciatum (Maki)14560Fujian: Wuyishan Mt.20 July 2003Lithocarpus glaber (Fagaceae)JF969314/JF969363/JN645022
14805Fujian: Wuyishan Mt.25 May 2004Cyclobalanopsis glauca (Fagaceae)JF969346/JF969395/JQ418319
22101Fujian: Liangyeshan Mt.14 November 2008Lithocarpus glaber (Fagaceae)JF969351/JF969400/JN645036
26742Zhejiang: Anji Country29 May 2011FagaceaeJQ418338
21916Guangdong: Nanling Mt.21 July 2008unknownJN645047
18510Hainan: Lingshui Mt.30 March 2006Lithocarpus elmerrillii (Fagaceae)JN644994/JN645010/JQ418328
26275Guangxi: Shiwandashan Mt.20 November 2010unknownJN645001/JN645016/JN645051
17329Zhejiang: Taishun County29 July 2005Quercus sp. (Fagaceae)JN644990/JN645006/JQ418322
26733Zhejiang: Anji Country29 May 2011FagaceaeJQ418337
18502Hainan: Lingshui County28 March 2006Castanopsis fabri Hance (Fagaceae)JN644993/JN645008/JQ418326
17331Zhejiang: Taishun County29 July 2005FagaceaeJN645023
21733Hunan: Leiling County7 July 2008unknownJN645031
21859Guangdong: Nanling Mt.19 July 2008unknownJN645034
M. rhusae (Ghosh)18513Hainan: Diaoluoshan Mt.30 March 2006FagaceaeJF969324/JF969373/JQ418329
20811Hainan: Wuzhishan Mt.7 December 2006FagaceaeJF969331/JF969380/JQ418330
20858Hainan: Diaoluoshan Mt.13 December 2007MeliaceaeJF969332/JF969381/JN645029
M. luchuanum (Takahashi)14414Fujian: Wuyishan Mt.6 July 2003Amygdalus persica (Rosaceae)JF969309/JF969358/JN645021
18104Fujian: Wuyishan Mt.24 October 2005Meliosma rigida (Sabiaceae)JF969319/JF969368/JN645024
M. montanum (van der Goot)16504Tibet: Zhangmu County27 July 2005unknownJF969318/JF969367/JQ418321
23754Yunnan: Qingliang County10 November 2009Alnus nepalensis (Betulaceae)JF969338/JF969387/JN645040
18324Tibet: Linzhi City22 August 2005unknownJF969344/JF969393/JN645018
25807Tibet: Zhangmu County8 August 2010FagaceaeJN644998/JN645012/JN645053
Mollitrichosiphum sp.26510Taiwan: Taman Mt.14 June 2011FagaceaeJN645002/JQ418315/JQ418335
26515Taiwan: Hualian County20 June 2011FagaceaeJN645003/JQ418316/JQ418336
Eutrichosiphum tattakanum (Takahashi)17184Sichuan: Miyi County20 April 2005unknownJN645055
Kurisakia querciphila (Takahashi)16201Guizhou: Leigongshan Mt.31 May 2005FagaceaeJF969355/JF969404/JQ418320
Mesotrichosiphum pentaiarticulatum (Zhang & Qiao)18489Hainan: Lingshui Mt.27 March 2006FagaceaeJQ418312/JQ418314/JQ418325
Cervaphis echinata (Hille Ris Lambers)18461Hainan: Jianfengling Mt.21 March 2006Paulownia sp. (Scrophulariaceae)JF969356/JF969405/JQ418324
Table Table 3. Characters of DNA sequences and the datasets used in phylogenetic analyses.

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Table 3. Characters of DNA sequences and the datasets used in phylogenetic analyses.
Individual datasetsCombined dataset

COI aCytb bEF-1α c
Number of taxa72575950
Aligned sequence length (bp)6066657852056
Conserved sites435 (473)450 (498)596 (656)1500 (1644)
Variable sites171 (133)215 (167)189 (129)556 (412)
Parsimony-informative sites147 (128)141 (134)111 (73)365 (328)

Numbers in the bracket are the results of ingroups;aCOI: Cytochrome C Oxidase Subunit I;bCytb: Cytochrome b;cEF-1α: Elongation Factor-1α.

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