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The Asian Lepidoptera Conservation Symposium

(ALCS4) Tianjin, China To be held on 10th to 14th, June, 2012 At the Main Campus of Nankai University, Tianjin 30071, P. R. China



Rapid Identification of Lepidoptera in Changing Environment by DNA Barcoding

A P Singh Associate Professor in Zoology (Entomology), SGGS College (affiliated to Panjab University), Chandigarh - 160 019, India E-mail: The recent global climate changes, habitat loss and fragmentation, mostly due to anthropogenic activities, have profoundly influenced the distribution and survival of various organisms including Insects. Among insects, Lepidoptera is a known flagship group for environment evaluation and conservation benefits. It is the second largest order of the class Insecta represented by over 1, 60,000 described species (Kristensen, et. al., 2007; 1, 74,250 - according to BOLDsystems), recognized as moths, butterflies and skippers. These are widely distributed on the earth, with maximum biodiversity in tropics. Many of these are described as biodiversity indicators/ ecological indicators, and some of them like butterflies, and saturnid and bombycid moths have economical /aesthetic value. Caterpillars of many species are pests of agricultural crops, horticultural trees and forest plants. Therefore, exhaustive surveys of this group can help in assessing impacts of environmental changes. Impacts can be in the form of changed distributional limits and population sizes, and genetic divergence within species. Sampling of the species from various areas and their rapid identifications can help in prompt assessment of the impacts. DNA barcoding is a standard taxonomic tool for rapid identification and assessing genetic divergence. DNA barcoding of Lepidoptera involves mitochondrial cytochrome-c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) gene (Hajibabaei, et. al., 2006). Additional mitochondrial genes such as Nad6 (Siva-Brandao, et. al., 2011), COII, Nad4 (Liu, et. al., 2010) and 16s rRNA (Raffiudin, et. al., 2011), have been described to account for intraspecific variations. Global barcode database of the order Lepidoptera is available on BOLDSystems ( which is regularly updated by submissions from all parts of the world. At the moment, BOLDSystems has 74,524 species with barcodes and 6, 32,761 specimens with barcodes for the Lepidoptera; and a substantial number of species await barcoding. Till majority lepidopteran species are barcoded and submitted on global database, rapid identification of Lepidopterans vis--vis assessment of impacts of environmental changes seems a distant possibility. Therefore, there is an urgent need for building its DNA barcode library. Once this library covers almost all the known species, evaluation of the responses of the species to changing environment; and knowledge of threatened status of various species will become easier. This will facilitate effective conservation of Lepidoptera and other insect species. REFERENCES
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