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Article

Molecular Systematics of the Firefly Genus Luciola (Coleoptera: Lampyridae: Luciolinae) with the Description of a New Species from Singapore

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Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117377, Singapore
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School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga 2678, Australia
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Central Nature Reserve, National Parks Board, Singapore 573858, Singapore
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National Parks Board HQ (Raffles Building), Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 259569, Singapore
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Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117543, Singapore
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Forest Biodiversity Division, Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kepong 52109, Malaysia
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Félix Goyache
Animals 2021, 11(3), 687; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030687
Received: 27 January 2021 / Revised: 19 February 2021 / Accepted: 26 February 2021 / Published: 4 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
Fireflies have a scattered distribution in Singapore but are not as uncommon as many would generally assume. A nationwide survey of fireflies in 2009 across Singapore documented 11 species, including “Luciola sp. 2”, which is particularly noteworthy because the specimens were collected from a freshwater swamp forest in the central catchment area of Singapore and did not fit the descriptions of any known Luciola species. Ten years later, we revisited the same locality to collect new specimens and genetic material of Luciola sp. 2. Subsequently, the mitochondrial genome of that population was sequenced and specimens were subjected to rigorous morphological examinations. We then collated published mitogenomes and shorter mitochondrial markers from closely related taxa to infer a phylogeny for the subfamily Luciolinae. Our results reveal that Luciola sp. 2 is both genetically and morphologically distinct from other congeners and is thus described herein as a new species Luciola singapura sp. nov. This marks the first time since 1909 that a new species of luminous firefly has been discovered in Singapore, highlighting the need for continued biodiversity research, even in small, well-studied and highly developed countries such as Singapore that can still harbor undescribed biodiversity.
The firefly genus Luciola sensu McDermott contains 282 species that are distributed across major parts of Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific islands. Due to phenotypic similarities, species identification using external morphological characters can be unreliable for this group. Consequently, decades of piecemeal taxonomic treatments have resulted in numerous erroneous and contentious classifications. Furthermore, our understanding of the group’s evolutionary history is limited due to the lack of a robust phylogenetic framework that has also impeded efforts to stabilize its taxonomy. Here, we constructed molecular phylogenies of Luciola and its allies based on combined mitogenomes and Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COX1) sequences including a newly sequenced mitogenome of an unidentified taxon from Singapore. Our results showed that this taxon represents a distinct and hitherto undescribed evolutionary lineage that forms a clade with L. filiformis from Japan and L. curtithorax from China. Additionally, the Singaporean lineage can be differentiated from other congeners through several external and internal diagnostic morphological characters, and is thus described herein as a new species. Our phylogeny also strongly supported the paraphyly of Luciola with regard to L. cruciata and L. owadai, which were inferred to be more closely related to the genus Aquatica as opposed to other members of Luciola sensu stricto. The genus Hotaria was inferred as a derived clade within Luciola (sister to L. italica), supporting its status as a subgenus of Luciola instead of a distinct genus. This is the first time since 1909 that a new species of luminous firefly has been discovered in Singapore, highlighting the need for continued biodiversity research, even in small, well-studied and highly developed countries, such as Singapore. View Full-Text
Keywords: Hotaria; Luciola cruciata; Luciola owadai; Nee Soon Swamp Forest; taxonomy; phylogenetics; conservation Hotaria; Luciola cruciata; Luciola owadai; Nee Soon Swamp Forest; taxonomy; phylogenetics; conservation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Jusoh, W.F.A.; Ballantyne, L.; Chan, S.H.; Wong, T.W.; Yeo, D.; Nada, B.; Chan, K.O. Molecular Systematics of the Firefly Genus Luciola (Coleoptera: Lampyridae: Luciolinae) with the Description of a New Species from Singapore. Animals 2021, 11, 687. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030687

AMA Style

Jusoh WFA, Ballantyne L, Chan SH, Wong TW, Yeo D, Nada B, Chan KO. Molecular Systematics of the Firefly Genus Luciola (Coleoptera: Lampyridae: Luciolinae) with the Description of a New Species from Singapore. Animals. 2021; 11(3):687. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030687

Chicago/Turabian Style

Jusoh, Wan F.A., Lesley Ballantyne, Su H. Chan, Tuan W. Wong, Darren Yeo, B. Nada, and Kin O. Chan. 2021. "Molecular Systematics of the Firefly Genus Luciola (Coleoptera: Lampyridae: Luciolinae) with the Description of a New Species from Singapore" Animals 11, no. 3: 687. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030687

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