Sequencing complete genomes of all major phylogenetic groups of organisms opens unprecedented opportunities to study evolution and genetics. We report draft genomes of Calephelis nemesis and Calephelis virginiensis, representatives of the family Riodinidae. They complete the genomic coverage of butterflies at the family level. At 809 and 855 Mbp, respectively, they become the largest available Lepidoptera genomes. Comparison of butterfly genomes shows that the divergence between Riodinidae and Lycaenidae dates to the time when other families started to diverge into subfamilies. Thus, Riodinidae may be considered a subfamily of Lycaenidae. Calephelis species exhibit unique gene expansions in actin-disassembling factor, cofilin, and chitinase. The functional implications of these gene expansions are not clear, but they may aid molting of caterpillars covered in extensive setae. The two Calephelis species diverged about 5 million years ago and they differ in proteins involved in metabolism, circadian clock, regulation of development, and immune responses.
Keywords: Calephelis; Lepidoptera; Molecular dating; Next-generation sequencing; Phylogeny.
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