Evaluation of the population structure and phylogeography of the Japanese Genji firefly, Luciola cruciata, at the nuclear DNA level using RAD-Seq analysis

Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 30;10(1):1533. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-58324-9.


The Genji firefly, Luciola cruciata, is widely distributed throughout the major Japanese islands (Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu) and distinguished into two ecological types on the basis of the flash interval of the mate-seeking males (4-sec slow-flash or 2-sec fast-flash intervals). The boundary of the ecological types corresponds to the Fossa Magna, a great rupture zone that separates eastern and western Japan. Although the degree of genetic differentiation of the two types has been evaluated using allozyme and mitochondrial DNA sequence data, it has not been evaluated using genome-wide data. Based on the genome-wide data obtained using single-end restriction-site-associated DNA (RAD-Seq), principal component, gene-level phylogenetic tree, admixture, and Wright's fixation index analyses, we identified three phylogenetic groups in L. cruciata: East-Honshu, West-Honshu, and Kyushu. This grouping corresponds to the ecological types: East-Honshu to the slow-flash type and West-Honshu and Kyushu to the fast-flash type. Although introgression was exceptionally observed around adjacent or artificially transplanted areas, gene flow among the groups was almost absent in the natural populations. The phylogenetic tree under the coalescent model also evaluated differentiation among the East-Honshu, West-Honshu and Kyushu groups. Furthermore, because the distribution patterns of the three groups are consistent with the geological history of Japanese islands, a vicariant speciation scenario of L. cruciata is concluded. In addition, we identified genetic markers that can be used to distinguish the three genetic groups for genetic management of firefly transplantation in nature conservation and regeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Demography
  • Fireflies / genetics*
  • Fireflies / metabolism*
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / methods
  • Japan
  • Phylogeography / methods
  • Population Density


  • DNA, Mitochondrial