Science Daily Source: University of Chicago Medical Center October 1, 2014
The monarch butterfly is one of the most iconic insects in the world, best known for its distinct orange and black wings and a spectacular annual mass migration across North America. However, little has been known about the genes that underlie these famous traits, even as the insect's storied migration appears to be in peril.
Sequencing the genomes of monarch butterflies from around the world, a team of scientists has now made surprising new insights into the monarch's genetics. They identified a single gene that appears central to migration -- a behavior generally regarded as complex -- and another that controls pigmentation. The researchers also shed light on the evolutionary origins of the monarch. They report their findings Oct. 1 in Nature.
"The results of this study shift our whole thinking about these butterflies...