Total evidence phylogeny and the evolution of adult bioluminescence in fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae)

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Fireflies are some of the most captivating organisms on the planet. They have a rich history as subjects of scientific study, especially in relation to their bioluminescent behavior. Yet, the phylogenetic relationships of fireflies are still poorly understood. Here, we present the first total evidence approach to reconstruct lampyrid phylogeny using both a molecular matrix from six loci and an extensive morphological matrix. Using this phylogeny we test the hypothesis that adult bioluminescence evolved after the origin of the firefly clade. The ancestral state of adult bioluminescence is recovered as non-bioluminescent with one to six gains and five to ten subsequent losses. The monophyly of the family, as well as the subfamilies is also tested. Ototretinae, Cyphonocerinae, Luciolinae (incl. Pristolycus), Amydetinae, “cheguevarinae” sensu Jeng 2008, and Photurinae are highly supported as monophyletic. With the exception of four taxa, Lampyrinae is also recovered as monophyletic with high support. Based on phylogenetic and morphological data Lamprohiza, Phausis, and Lamprigera are transferred to Lampyridae incertae sedis.




Martin, G. J., Branham, M. A., Whiting, M. F., & Bybee, S. M. (2017). Total evidence phylogeny and the evolution of adult bioluminescence in fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 107, 564–575.

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