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Mimicry in butterflies

Mollema, Welmoed (2018) Mimicry in butterflies. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.


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Mimicry is found in a lot of organisms including butterflies. This essay focusses on two specific genusgenera, namely: Helicionius and Papilio. The species of the Heliconius genus possess Mullerian mimicry. And on the other hand the species of the Papilio genus possess Batesian mimicry. With Mullerian mimicry two poisonous species use the same wing pattern. With Batesiam mimicry a harmless species mimics a poisonous species. Both species use wing pattern as a warning colour for predators. The main question of this essay is: Does mimicry develop in different ways in Heliconius and Papilio? The genetic basis for mimicry of 6 Heliconius species is compared in this essay. In Heliconius numata supergene P control the wing pattern. In most Heliconius species the optix transcription factor prefigures the variety of red wing elements. Cortex controls the white/yellow pattern. Small differences are found between the species of the Heliconius genus. In Heliconius hecale and Heliconius ismenius a multilocus archritecture controls wing patterning. In the Papilio genus, mimicry is only seen in females, causing non-mimetic males. In Papilio dardanus the phenotypic variation is mostly due to a single Mendelian locus, named H. H co-segregated with transcription factor invected and its paralogue engrailed. In Papilio polytes, a single locus called doublesex determines the wing pattern. The selection pressures are different for both genera, due to the Mullerian/Batesian aspects of the mimicry: in Heliconius there is a strong selection on mimicry, while in Papilio the selection depends on the abundance of the model species. For the Heliconius species, it is better when there are more mimics present, while it is better for the Papilio species when less mimics are around. Polymorphic mimicry is found within both genera. But the genes controlling the wing-pattern differ between the Heliconius genus and the Papilio genus. Neither there is found one locus or gene that influences wingpattern within one of the genera. Concluding mimicry in different species diverges from each other and the data suggests mimicry has evolved multiple times in different genes in different species.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Supervisor name: Wertheim, B.
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2018
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2018 14:44

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