Phylogenetic relationships of Acronictinae with discussion of the abdominal courtship brush in Noctuidae (Lepidoptera)
We present results of an eight-gene molecular study of the subfamily Acronictinae and related Noctuidae. Amphipyrinae are recovered as sister to Acronictinae, but with weak support ? not surprisingly, the content of the two subfamilies has often been mixed in classifications. Balsinae, previously placed near Acronictinae or within Noctuinae, is recovered within an unresolved polytomy of Cuculliinae, Eustrotiinae, Raphiinae and Dilobinae. Gerbathodes Warren, Moma Hübner and Nacna Fletcher are excluded from Acronictinae. Three genera recently transferred into the subfamily ? Cerma Hübner, Chloronycta Schmidt & Anweiler and Comachara Franclemont ? are confirmed as acronictines. Lophonycta Sugi (the type genus of Lophonyctinae) is returned to the Acronictinae. Sinocharis Püngeler, formerly considered to be Acontiinae or as the basis of its own subfamily Sinocharinae, is nested within early diverging Acronictinae genera. Both subfamilies are formally synonymized: i.e. Lophonyctinae syn.n. and Sinocharinae syn.n. Nine acronictine genus-level taxa were found to nest within the nominate genus Acronicta Ochsenheimer: Eogena Guenée, Hyboma Hübner, Hylonycta Sugi, Jocheaera Hübner, Oxicesta Hübner, Simyra Ochsenheimer, Subacronicta Kozhanchikov, Triaena Hübner, and Viminia Chapman. Eogena, Oxicesta, and Simyra, currently treated as valid genera, nest within terminal clades of the genus Acronicta and are here subsumed within the genus: Eogena syn.n., Oxicesta syn.n. and Simyra syn.n. Four well-supported species groups within Acronicta are identified: the alni clade, the leporina clade, the nervosa clade and the psi clade. While many previous treatments have stated explicitly that Acronictinae lack abdominal scent brushes, or excluded genera with brushes from the subfamily, we show that well-developed brushes are present in three early diverging acronictine genera: Cerma, Lophonycta, and Sinocharis. We illustrate and describe the brushes of all three genera, and briefly review the taxonomic distribution of the anterior abdominal courtship brushes in Noctuidae, emphasizing the labile evolutionary distribution of these structures.