Tuesday, September 26, 2006


How butterflies got their spots: A 'supergene' controls wing pattern diversity (PLoS Biology)

Mullerian Adaptive Selection Divergent Convergence Phenotypic (Evolution Research: John Latter / Jorolat)Butterflies are known to employ some interesting convergent evolutionary tactics to survive - some non-poisonous species have similar wing patterns to those of noxious species that predators avoid. In a new study published online today in the open access journal PLoS Biology (see below), Mathieu Joron, Chris Jiggins, and colleagues investigate the underlying genetic mechanisms of such molecular mimicry in three species of Heliconius butterflies.

In this study, the authors investigate two distantly related species (H. melpomene and H. erato) that have similar wing patterns and a third species, H. numata, that is closely related to H. melpomene, but displays very different wing patterns. Each of these three species is also known to mimic a different species within another butterfly genus, Melinaea. Several genomic loci are already known to be responsible in part for encoding the wing patterns and colorings. To explore the genetic backgrounds of each of these species, the authors crossed different races of each species and genotyped the offspring in order to identify genes responsible for the color patterns. [Evolution, Mechanism, Genotype, Genome]

Continued at: How butterflies got their spots: A 'supergene' controls wing pattern diversity

Based on the PLos Biology open access paper "A Conserved Supergene Locus Controls Colour Pattern Diversity in Heliconius Butterflies"

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