Ultrabithorax function in butterfly wings and the evolution of insect wing patterns.
BACKGROUND: . The morphological and functional evolution of appendages has played a critical role in animal evolution, but the developmental genetic mechanisms underlying appendage diversity are not understood. Given that homologous appendage development is controlled by the same Hox gene in different organisms, and that Hox genes are transcription factors, diversity may evolve from changes in the regulation of Hox target genes. Two impediments to understanding the role of Hox genes in morphological evolution have been the limited number of organisms in which Hox gene function can be studied and the paucity of known Hox-regulated target genes. We have therefore analyzed a butterfly homeotic mutant 'Hindsight', in which portions of the ventral hindwing pattern are transformed to ventral forewing identity, and we have compared the regulation of target genes by the Ultrabithorax (Ubx) gene product in Lepidopteran and Dipteran hindwings. RESULTS: . We show that Ubx gene expression is lost from patches of cells in developing Hindsight hindwings, correlating with changes in wing pigmentation, color pattern elements, and scale morphology. We use this mutant to study how regulation of target genes by Ubx protein differs between species. We find that several Ubx-regulated genes in the Drosophila haltere are not repressed by Ubx in butterfly hindwings, but that Distal-less (Dll) expression is regulated by Ubx in a unique manner in butterflies. CONCLUSIONS: . The morphological diversification of insect hindwings has involved the acquisition of different sets of target genes by Ubx in different lineages. Changes in Hox-regulated target gene sets are, in general, likely to underlie the morphological divergence of homologous structures between animals. (+info)
Interaction of process partitions in phylogenetic analysis: an example from the swallowtail butterfly genus Papilio.
In this study, we explored how the concept of the process partition may be applied to phylogenetic analysis. Sequence data were gathered from 23 species and subspecies of the swallowtail butterfly genus Papilio, as well as from two outgroup species from the genera Eurytides and Pachliopta. Sequence data consisted of 1,010 bp of the nuclear protein-coding gene elongation factor-1 alpha (EF-1 alpha) as well as the entire sequences (a total of 2,211 bp) of the mitochondrial protein-coding genes cytochrome oxidase I and cytochrome oxidase II (COI and COII). In order to examine the interaction between the nuclear and mitochondrial partitions in a combined analysis, we used a method of visualizing branch support as a function of partition weight ratios. We demonstrated how this method may be used to diagnose error at different levels of a tree in a combined maximum-parsimony analysis. Further, we assessed patterns of evolution within and between subsets of the data by implementing a multipartition maximum-likelihood model to estimate evolutionary parameters for various putative process partitions. COI third positions have an estimated average substitution rate more than 15 times that of EF-1 alpha, while COII third positions have an estimated average substitution rate more than 22 times that of EF-1 alpha. Ultimately, we found that although the mitochondrial and nuclear data were not significantly incongruent, homoplasy in the fast-evolving mitochondrial data confounded the resolution of basal relationships in the combined unweighted parsimony analysis despite the fact that there was relatively strong support for the relationships in the nuclear data. We conclude that there may be shortcomings to the methods of "total evidence" and "conditional combination" because they may fail to detect or accommodate the type of confounding bias we found in our data. (+info)
Inbreeding of bottlenecked butterfly populations. Estimation using the likelihood of changes in marker allele frequencies.
Polymorphic enzyme and minisatellite loci were used to estimate the degree of inbreeding in experimentally bottlenecked populations of the butterfly, Bicyclus anynana (Satyridae), three generations after founding events of 2, 6, 20, or 300 individuals, each bottleneck size being replicated at least four times. Heterozygosity fell more than expected, though not significantly so, but this traditional measure of the degree of inbreeding did not make full use of the information from genetic markers. It proved more informative to estimate directly the probability distribution of a measure of inbreeding, sigma2, the variance in the number of descendants left per gene. In all bottlenecked lines, sigma2 was significantly larger than in control lines (300 founders). We demonstrate that this excess inbreeding was brought about both by an increase in the variance of reproductive success of individuals, but also by another process. We argue that in bottlenecked lines linkage disequilibrium generated by the small number of haplotypes passing through the bottleneck resulted in hitchhiking of particular marker alleles with those haplotypes favored by selection. In control lines, linkage disequilibrium was minimal. Our result, indicating more inbreeding than expected from demographic parameters, contrasts with the findings of previous (Drosophila) experiments in which the decline in observed heterozygosity was slower than expected and attributed to associative overdominance. The different outcomes may both be explained as a consequence of linkage disequilibrium under different regimes of inbreeding. The likelihood-based method to estimate inbreeding should be of wide applicability. It was, for example, able to resolve small differences in sigma2 among replicate lines within bottleneck-size treatments, which could be related to the observed variation in reproductive viability. (+info)
An ultraviolet absorbing pigment causes a narrow-band violet receptor and a single-peaked green receptor in the eye of the butterfly Papilio.
The distal photoreceptors in the tiered retina of Papilio exhibit different spectral sensitivities. There are at least two types of short-wavelength sensitive receptors: an ultraviolet receptor with a normal spectral shape and a violet receptor with a very narrow spectral bandwidth. Furthermore, a blue receptor, a double-peaked green receptor and a single-peaked green receptor exist. The violet receptor and single-peaked green receptor are only found in ommatidia that fluoresce under ultraviolet illumination. About 28% of the ommatidia in the ventral half of the retina exhibit the UV-induced fluorescence. The fluorescence originates from an ultraviolet-absorbing pigment, located in the most distal 70 microns of the ommatidium, that acts as an absorption filter, both for a UV visual pigment, causing the narrow spectral sensitivity of the violet receptor, and for a green visual pigment, causing a single-peaked green receptor. (+info)
Molecular cloning of an apoptosis-inducing protein, pierisin, from cabbage butterfly: possible involvement of ADP-ribosylation in its activity.
We have previously reported that the cabbage butterfly, Pieris rapae, contains a 98-kDa protein, named pierisin, that induces apoptosis in a variety of human cancer cell lines. In the present study, sequencing and cloning of a cDNA encoding pierisin was accomplished. PCR-direct sequencing showed that the gene encodes an 850-amino acid protein with a calculated molecular weight of 98,081. An intact clone at the amino acid level encompassing the entire coding region was obtained by recombination of two independent clones, and the molecular mass of its in vitro expressed protein was about 100 kDa on SDS/PAGE, the same as that of purified native pierisin. The expressed protein induced apoptosis in human gastric carcinoma TMK-1 and cervical carcinoma HeLa cells, like the native protein, indicating functional activity. The deduced amino acid sequence of pierisin showed 32% homology with a 100-kDa mosquitocidal toxin from Bacillus sphaericus SSII-1. In addition, pierisin showed regional sequence similarities with ADP-ribosylating toxins, such as the A subunit of cholera toxin. A glutamic acid residue at the putative NAD-binding site, conserved in all ADP-ribosylating toxins, was also found in pierisin. Substitution of another amino acid for glutamic acid 165 resulted in a great decrease in cytotoxicity and induction of apoptosis. Moreover, inhibitors of ADP-ribosylating enzymes reduced pierisin-induced apoptosis. These results suggest that the apoptosis-inducing protein pierisin might possess ADP-ribosylation activity that leads to apoptosis of the cells. (+info)
Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus L.) use a magnetic compass for navigation.
Fall migratory monarch butterflies, tested for their directional responses to magnetic cues under three conditions, amagnetic, normal, and reversed magnetic fields, showed three distinct patterns. In the absence of a magnetic field, monarchs lacked directionality as a group. In the normal magnetic field, monarchs oriented to the southwest with a group pattern typical for migrants. When the horizontal component of the magnetic field was reversed, the butterflies oriented to the northeast. In contrast, nonmigratory monarchs lacked directionality in the normal magnetic field. The results are a direct demonstration of magnetic compass orientation in migratory insects. (+info)
Ectopic gene expression and homeotic transformations in arthropods using recombinant Sindbis viruses.
BACKGROUND: The morphological diversity of arthropods makes them attractive subjects for studying the evolution of developmental mechanisms. Comparative analyses suggest that arthropod diversity has arisen largely as a result of changes in expression patterns of genes that control development. Direct analysis of how a particular gene functions in a given species during development is hindered by the lack of broadly applicable techniques for manipulating gene expression. RESULTS: We report that the Arbovirus Sindbis can be used to deliver high levels of gene expression in vivo in a number of non-host arthropod species without causing cytopathic effects in infected cells or impairing development. Using recombinant Sindbis virus, we investigated the function of the homeotic gene Ultrabithorax in the development of butterfly wings and beetle embryos. Ectopic Ultrabithorax expression in butterfly forewing imaginal discs was sufficient to cause the transformation of characteristic forewing properties in the adult, including scale morphology and pigmentation, to those of the hindwing. Expression of Ultrabithorax in beetle embryos outside of its endogenous expression domain affected normal development of the body wall cuticle and appendages. CONCLUSIONS: The homeotic genes have long been thought to play an important role in the diversification of arthropod appendages. Using recombinant Sindbis virus, we were able to investigate homeotic gene function in non-model arthropod species. We found that Ultrabithorax is sufficient to confer hindwing identity in butterflies and alter normal development of anterior structures in beetles. Recombinant Sindbis virus has broad potential as a tool for analyzing how the function of developmental genes has changed during the diversification of arthropods. (+info)
Sex-ratio-distorting Wolbachia causes sex-role reversal in its butterfly host.
Sex-role-reversed mating systems in which females compete for males and males may be choosy are usually associated with males investing more than females in offspring. We report that sex-role reversal may also be caused by selfish genetic elements which distort the sex ratio towards females. Some populations of the butterflies Acraea encedon and Acraea encedana are extremely female biased because over 90% of females are infected with a Wolbachia bacterium that is maternally inherited and kills male embryos. Many females in these populations are virgins suggesting that their reproductive success may be limited by access to males. These females form lekking swarms at landmarks in which females exhibit behaviours which we interpret as functioning to solicit matings from males. The hypothesis that female A. encedon swarm in order to mate is supported by the finding that, in release recapture experiments, mated females tend to leave the swarm while unmated females remained. This behaviour is a sex-role-reversed form of a common mating system in insects in which males form lekking swarms at landmarks and compete for females. Female lekking swarms are absent from less female-biased populations and here the butterflies are instead associated with resources in the form of the larval food plant. (+info)