Phylogeny of the pollinating yucca moths, with revision of Mexican species (Tegeticula and Parategeticula; Lepidoptera, Prodoxidae)

Olle Pellmyr, Manuel Balcázar-Lara, Kari A. Segraves, David M. Althoff, Rik J. Littlefield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The yucca moths (Tegeticula and Parategeticula; Lepidoptera, Prodoxidae) are well known for their obligate relationship as exclusive pollinators of yuccas. Revisionary work in recent years has revealed far higher species diversity than historically recognized, increasing the number of described species from four to 20. Based on field surveys in Mexico and examination of collections, we describe five additional species: T. californica Pellmyr sp. nov., T. tehuacana Pellmyr & Balcázar-Lara sp. nov., T. tambasi Pellmyr & Balcázar-Lara sp. nov., T. baja Pellmyr & Balcázar-Lara sp. nov. and P. ecdysiastica Pellmyr & Balcázar-Lara sp. nov. Tegeticula treculeanella Pellmyr is identified as a junior synonym of T. mexicana Bastida. A diagnostic key to the adults of all species of the T. yuccasella complex is provided. A phylogeny based on a 2104-bp segment of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the cytochrome oxidase I and II region supported monophyly of the two pollinator genera, and strongly supported monophyly of the 17 recognized species of the T. yuccasella complex. Most relationships are well supported, but some relationships within a recent and rapidly diversified group of 11 taxa are less robust, and in one case conflicts with a whole-genome data set (amplified fragment length polymorphism, AFLP). The current mtDNA-based analyses, together with previously published AFLP data, provide a robust phylogenetic foundation for future studies of life-history evolution and host interactions in one of the classical models of coevolution and obligate mutualism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-314
Number of pages18
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Molecular phylogenetics
  • Mutualism
  • Pollination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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