Wing venation and Distal-less expression in Heliconius butterfly wing pattern development
- 328 Downloads
Here we show that major color pattern elements of Heliconius butterfly wings develop independently of wing venation. We recovered a hybrid Heliconius displaying a mutant phenotype with a severe vein deficiency. Although this butterfly lacked most of its wing veins, the large, melanic banding patterns typical of the genus were conserved across the entire wing. The only obvious correlation between vein reduction and pigment patterns was a loss of vein-associated melanin stripes near the distal margin of the wings. We examined the expression of the eyespot-associated transcription factor Distal-less in a banded and a spotted species of Heliconius and found no obvious relationship between protein expression and the band or spot patterns typical of the genus. Together, our results suggest that the melanic bands and spots in Heliconius are unlikely to be derived from an eyespot determination system. We propose that major elements of Heliconius wing pattern formation are based primarily on a complex, whole-wing proximodistal axis system.
KeywordsEyespot Evolution Nymphalid ground plan Mimicry Development
We thank H.F. Nijhout, J. Mallet, and an anonymous reviewer for comments on the manuscript, and S.B. Carroll for sharing the Distal-less antibody. This work was funded by US National Science Foundation grants DEB 0209441, IBN 0344705, and BSR 8315399.
- Gilbert LE (2003) Adaptive novelty through introgression in Heliconius wing patterns: evidence for a shared genetic “Toolbox” from synthetic hybrid zones and a theory of diversification. In: Boogs CL, Watt WB, Ehrlich PR (eds) Butterflies: ecology and evolution taking flight. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and LondonGoogle Scholar
- Nijhout HF (1991) The development and evolution of butterfly wing patterns. Smithsonian Institution, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
- Nijhout HF, Wray GA (1988) Homologies in the color patterns of the genus Heliconius (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Biol J Linn Soc 33:345–365Google Scholar
- Nijhout HF, Wray GA, Gilbert LE (1990) An analysis of the phenotypic effects of certain color pattern genes in Heliconius (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Biol J Linn Soc 40:357–372Google Scholar
- Schwanwitsch BN (1924) On the groundplan of wing-pattern in nymphalids and certain other families of rhopalocerous Lepidoptera. Proc Zool Soc Lond 34:509–528Google Scholar
- Schwanwitsch BN (1925) On a remarkable dislocation of the components of the wing pattern in a Satyride genus Pierella. Entomologist 58:226–269Google Scholar
- Sheppard PM, Turner JRG, Brown KS, Benson WW, Singer MC (1985) Genetics and evolution of muellerian mimcry in Heliconius butterflies. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 308:433–613Google Scholar