Butterfly genomics eclosing

Heredity (Edinb). 2008 Feb;100(2):150-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800934. Epub 2007 Feb 7.


Technological and conceptual advances of the last decade have led to an explosion of genomic data and the emergence of new research avenues. Evolutionary and ecological functional genomics, with its focus on the genes that affect ecological success and adaptation in natural populations, benefits immensely from a phylogenetically widespread sampling of biological patterns and processes. Among those organisms outside established model systems, butterflies offer exceptional opportunities for multidisciplinary research on the processes generating and maintaining variation in ecologically relevant traits. Here we highlight research on wing color pattern variation in two groups of Nymphalid butterflies, the African species Bicyclus anynana (subfamily Satyrinae) and species of the South American genus Heliconius (subfamily Heliconiinae), which are emerging as important systems for studying the nature and origins of functional diversity. Growing genomic resources including genomic and cDNA libraries, dense genetic maps, high-density gene arrays, and genetic transformation techniques are extending current gene mapping and expression profiling analysis and enabling the next generation of research questions linking genes, development, form, and fitness. Efforts to develop such resources in Bicyclus and Heliconius underscore the general challenges facing the larger research community and highlight the need for a community-wide effort to extend ongoing functional genomic research on butterflies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Butterflies / embryology
  • Butterflies / genetics*
  • Genome, Insect
  • Genomics*
  • Wings, Animal / embryology