Navigation Links
An eye gene colors butterfly wings red
Date:7/21/2011

Red may mean STOP or I LOVE YOU! A red splash on a toxic butterfly's wing screams DON'T EAT ME! In nature, one toxic butterfly species may mimic the wing pattern of another toxic species in the area. By using the same signal, they send a stronger message: DON'T EAT US!

Now several research teams that include Smithsonian scientists in Panama, have discovered that Heliconius butterflies mimic each other's red wing patterns through changes in the same gene.

Not only does this gene lead to the same red wing patterns in neighboring species, it also leads to a large variety of red wing patterns in Heliconius species across the Americas that result when it is turned on in other areas of the wings.

Because different butterfly species evolved red wing patterns independently, resulting in a huge variety of patterns we see today, researchers thought that different genes were responsible in each case.

"The variety of wing patterns in Heliconius butterflies has always fascinated collectors," said Owen McMillan, geneticist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, "People have been trying to sort out the genetics of mimicry rings since the 1970's. Now we put together some old genetics techniques and some newer genomics techniques and came up with the very surprising result that only one gene codes for all of the red wing patterns. The differences that we see in the patterns seems to be due to the way the gene is regulated."

First the team used genetic screens to look for genes that are turned on differently in butterflies with red wing patterns and lacking in other butterflies without this pattern. When they discovered a promising gene, they used stains to show where this gene was expressed on butterfly wings showing different patterns. They found the gene to be expressed exactly where red pigment occurs in the wings in every case. The match was so perfect that they could identify subtle differences in red patterns between species using these stains.

They combed genetic librariesgene banks to see if the gene they found matched genes characterized in other studies. "We found that the same gene that codes for the red in Heliconius wings was already identified as a gene called optix that is involved in eye development in other organisms," said co-author Heather Hines, "It is intriguing that the ommochrome pigments that color these wings red are also expressed in the eye. How the optix gene codes for wing color raises a host of new questions."

"Tropical biologists have been striving for centuries to explain what it is that makes life in the tropics so biologically diverse," said STRI Director, Eldredge Bermingham, "Now this group has discovered that a single gene underlies one of the most spectacular evolutionary radiations in nature! Perhaps the genetic basis for diversity will turn out to be far more simple than we expected."


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
716-357-9075
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. How can a colorblind animal change its colors to blend into the background?
2. Wildflower colors tell butterflies how to do their jobs
3. Hearing colors, seeing sounds: New research explores sensory overlap in the brain
4. From butterflies wings to bank notes -- how natures colors could cut bank fraud
5. Butterfly vision, wing colors linked, UCI study finds
6. UCI-led butterfly study sheds light on convergent evolution
7. NASAs Aura satellite measures pollution butterfly from fires in central Africa
8. Butterfly study reveals traits and genes associated with establishment of new populations
9. Internet catches updated butterfly and moth website
10. Chinese-German collaboration yields new species of Large Blue butterfly
11. Artificial butterfly in flight and filmed
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
An eye gene colors butterfly wings red
(Date:4/4/2017)... , April 4, 2017   EyeLock LLC , ... that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ... covers the linking of an iris image with a ... and represents the company,s 45 th issued patent. ... is very timely given the multi-modal biometric capabilities that ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... 30, 2017 Trends, opportunities and forecast in ... by technology (fingerprint, AFIS, iris recognition, facial recognition, hand ... by end use industry (government and law enforcement, commercial ... banking, and others), and by region ( North ... Asia Pacific , and the Rest of ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. Mohamed Anwar and ... international IAIR Award for the most innovative high security ePassport and eGates  ... ... Maldives Immigration Controller General, Mr. Mohamed Anwar ... right) have received the IAIR award for the "Most innovative high security ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... , ... They call it the “hairy ball.” It’s an ... a system of linkages and connections so complex and dense that “it looks ... at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and director of the university’s bioinformatics and computational ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to improve patient outcomes and quality of ... trends in analytical testing are being attributed to new regulatory requirements for all ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ComplianceOnline’s Medical ... place on 7th and 8th June 2018 in San Francisco, CA. The Summit brings ... well as several distinguished CEOs, board directors and government officials from around the world ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... A ... pregnancy rates in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer ... age to IVF success. , After comparing the results from the fresh and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: