TITLE

Selection on the wing in Heliconius butterflies

AUTHOR(S)
Legrand, Delphine; Stevens, Virginie M.; Baguette, Michel
PUB. DATE
January 2011
SOURCE
BMC Genetics;2011, Vol. 12 Issue 1, p31
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
To what extent population structure favours the establishment of new phenotypes within a species remains a fundamental question in evolutionary studies. By reducing gene flow, habitat fragmentation is a major factor shaping the genetic structuring of populations, favouring isolation of small populations in which drift may rapidly change frequencies of new variants. When these variants provide advantages to individuals, the combined effect of selection and drift can lead to rapid shifts in phenotypes. In a study published in BMC Genetics, Albuquerque de Moura et al. asked whether such a general pattern of population structure can be observed in Heliconius species, which could have strong implication in the evolution of colour pattern diversification in these butterflies. In this commentary we discuss the potential roles of these three processes (drift, selection and dispersal) on the evolution of Heliconius wing patterns in regard to the findings of a common fine-scale population structure within the comimetic species H. melpomene and H. erato. Indeed, a general pattern of population subdivision in the history of these two species may have provoked the major phenotypical shifts observed in their wing colour patterns. The suggestion that coupled environmental pressures (counter-selection of dispersal and selection on co-evolved traits) could be responsible for identical genetic differentiation profiles in H. erato and H. melpomene clearly merits further investigations using both detailed population genetic (including landscape genetic) and ecological studies.
ACCESSION #
60406287

 

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