Evolutionary Novelty in a Butterfly Wing Pattern through Enhancer Shuffling

Abstract

An important goal in evolutionary biology is to understand the genetic changes underlying novel morphological structures. We investigated the origins of a complex wing pattern found among Amazonian Heliconius butterflies. Genome sequence data from 142 individuals across 17 species identified narrow regions associated with two distinct red colour pattern elements, dennis and ray. We hypothesise that these modules in non-coding sequence represent distinct cis-regulatory loci that control expression of the transcription factor optix, which in turn controls red pattern variation across Heliconius. Phylogenetic analysis of the two elements demonstrated that they have distinct evolutionary histories and that novel adaptive morphological variation was created by shuffling these cis-regulatory modules through recombination between divergent lineages. In addition, recombination of modules into different combinations within species further contributes to diversity. Analysis of the timing of diversification in these two regions supports the hypothesis of introgression moving regulatory modules between species, rather than shared ancestral variation. The dennis phenotype introgressed into Heliconius melpomene at about the same time that ray originated in this group, while ray introgressed back into H. elevatus much more recently. We show that shuffling of existing enhancer elements both within and between species provides a mechanism for rapid diversification and generation of novel morphological combinations during adaptive radiation.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002353

Extracted Key Phrases

010203020162017
Citations per Year

Citation Velocity: 11

Averaging 11 citations per year over the last 2 years.

Learn more about how we calculate this metric in our FAQ.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Wallbank2016EvolutionaryNI, title={Evolutionary Novelty in a Butterfly Wing Pattern through Enhancer Shuffling}, author={Richard W. R. Wallbank and Simon W. Baxter and Carolina Pardo-D{\'i}az and Joseph J. Hanly and Simon H Martin and James Mallet and Kanchon K. Dasmahapatra and Camilo Salazar and Mathieu Joron and Nicola J Nadeau and W. Owen McMillan and Chris D. Jiggins and Nicholas H. Barton}, booktitle={PLoS biology}, year={2016} }