First chromosome scale genomes of ithomiine butterflies (Nymphalidae: Ithomiini): Comparative models for mimicry genetic studies.

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The ithomiine butterflies (Nymphalidae: Danainae) represent the largest known radiation of Müllerian mimetic butterflies. They dominate by number the mimetic butterfly communities, which include species such as the iconic neotropical Heliconius genus. Recent studies on the ecology and genetics of speciation in Ithomiini have suggested that sexual pheromones, colour pattern and perhaps hostplant could drive reproductive isolation. However, no reference genome was available for Ithomiini, which has hindered further exploration on the genetic architecture of these candidate traits, and more generally on the genomic patterns of divergence. Here, we generated high-quality, chromosome-scale genome assemblies for two Melinaea species, M. marsaeus and M. menophilus, and a draft genome of the species Ithomia salapia. We obtained genomes with a size ranging from 396 to 503?Mb across the three species and scaffold N50 of 40.5 and 23.2 Mb for the two chromosome-scale assemblies. Using collinearity analyses we identified massive rearrangements between the two closely related Melinaea species. An annotation of transposable elements and gene content was performed, as well as a specialist annotation to target chemosensory genes, which is crucial for host plant detection and mate recognition in mimetic species. A comparative genomic approach revealed independent gene expansions in ithomiines and particularly in gustatory receptor genes. These first three genomes of ithomiine mimetic butterflies constitute a valuable addition and a welcome comparison to existing biological models such as Heliconius, and will enable further understanding of the mechanisms of adaptation in butterflies.