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Butterfly Eyespots: The Genetics and Development of the Color Rings

Antónia Monteiro, Paul M. Brakefield and Vernon French
Evolution
Vol. 51, No. 4 (Aug., 1997), pp. 1207-1216
DOI: 10.2307/2411050
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2411050
Page Count: 10
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Butterfly Eyespots: The Genetics and Development of the Color Rings
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Abstract

The butterfly Bicyclus anynana has a series of distal eyespots on its wings. Each eyespot is composed of a white pupil, a black disc, and a gold outer ring. We applied artificial selection to the large dorsal eyespot on the forewing to produce a line with the gold ring reduced or absent (BLACK) and another line with a reduced black disc and a broad gold ring (GOLD). High heritabilities, coupled with a rapid response to selection, produced two lines of butterflies with very different phenotypes. Other eyespots showed a correlated change in the proportion of their color rings. Surgical experiments were performed on pupal wings from the different lines at the time of eyespot pattern specification. They showed that the additive genetic variance for this trait was in the response of the wing epidermis to signaling from the organizing cells at the eyespot center (the focus). This response was found to vary across different regions of the wing and also between the sexes. The particular eyespot color composition found for each sex, as well as the maintenance of the high genetic variation, are discussed with reference to the ecology of the butterfly, sexual selection, and visual selection by predators.

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