Complex modular architecture around a simple toolkit of wing pattern genes

Steven M. Van Belleghem, Pasi Rastas, Alexie Papanicolaou, Simon H. Martin, Carlos F. Arias, Megan A. Supple, Joseph J. Hanly, James Mallet, James J. Lewis, Heather M. Hines, Mayte Ruiz, Camilo Salazar, Mauricio Linares, Gilson R.P. Moreira, Chris D. Jiggins, Brian A. Counterman, W. Owen McMillan, Riccardo Papa

    Research output: Contribution to journalResearch Articlepeer-review


    Identifying the genomic changes that control morphological variation and understanding how they generate diversity is a major goal of evolutionary biology. In Heliconius butterflies, a small number of genes control the development of diverse wing colour patterns. Here, we used full-genome sequencing of individuals across the Heliconius erato radiation and closely related species to characterize genomic variation associated with wing pattern diversity. We show that variation around colour pattern genes is highly modular, with narrow genomic intervals associated with specific differences in colour and pattern. This modular architecture explains the diversity of colour patterns and provides a flexible mechanism for rapid morphological diversification.
    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number052
    JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jan 30 2017


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