Using the Cytochrome c Oxidase Subunit I Gene as a Molecular Tool to Identify Firefly Larva Species

Assoc.Prof.Dr. Wandee Wattanachaiyingcharoen, Sittichai Urtgam


The larval stage of the firefly is the longest period of its life cycle that may take

a year or more to complete. Collected larval samples need to be reared until they are adult and then they can be identified. The COI gene is a molecular marker widely used in identifying insect species. According to heredity, genetic inheritance from parents can pass to the offspring. We aimed to identify firefly species of collected larvae by comparing the COI gene sequence with known adult species, Pyrocoelia praetexta. Collected larva samples were divided into two groups, the first group was reared into adults in the laboratory and were morphologically identified. The second group with six larvae was used to analyse the COI gene sequences along with three adult P. praetexta samples. The sequences of the gene were aligned together with the COI gene of other three firefly species. The phylogenetic tree was constructed with the Maximum Likelihood method and showed the relationship among these observed firefly samples. Reared larval samples were identified as P. praetexta when they reached the adult stage. All collected larva samples and adults of P. praetexta were categorised in the same clade with the 99-100% branch support value and lower evolutionary divergence, indicating that they were the same species. Therefore, the COI gene could be a useful genetic marker to identify firefly species from larval samples. The results supported the idea that firefly samples could be identified in the larval stage using an appropriate genetic marker.

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