The researcher have sequenced 101 butterfly genes, and discovered that there is only one gene which is responsible for the butterflies to immigrate long distances. The study findings propose that the monarch butterflies are actually evolved with more efficient muscles that help them to fly so far.
A recent genetic analysis published this week in the Nature journal, having some unanticipated twists. First thing, it seems as the intimates of the contemporary monarchs initially dispersed out North America, instead of central or South America, as formerly believed. Secondly, only one gene seems to play a vital role in giving monarchs their prominent coloration.
However, Marcus Kronforst, University of Chicago’s biologist confesses that he along with his fellow colleagues firstly discovered evolutionary proofs hard to accept. He stated in his interview with BBC News, “It really took lots of convincing,” though, the findings portray how genetics could elaborate the origins of a species’ traits on a level far more fundamental than, say, Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories,” said the University of Exeter’s Richard H. ffrench-Constant.
H. ffrench-Constant (not involved in the project), stated in a Nature journal; “Butterflies are leading a revival in our understanding of the molecular basis of natural selection.”
From Where Monarch got its Start?
The different patterns of alteration in genomes are analyzed by researchers to conclude that North American butterflies are nearby to their ancestral roots of evolutionary tree.
The researchers assumed that, the travelling Monarchs originated in Central or South America, and established themselves in North America. But the latest proof indicates that the species got its start in southern United States or Mexico, perhaps 1mn to 2mn years ago said by Kronforst.
The butterflies most likely to followed a short range traveling pattern. The researchers says that, North American population began to expand about 20,000 years ago, at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, when butterflies could more readily spread on milkweed crowd plants in the American Midwest.
The other big inherited finding related to Monarch butterfly is distinctive orange and black spotted wings. But, in Hawaii some monarchs lack that pattern, and they have white wings. When genetic differences are analyzed by researchers, between two varieties, they found a myosin gene called DPOGS206617 which was strongly linked with wing color.
This gene is similar to a myosin gene which plays a key role in the color of a mouse’s furry coat. An alteration in that gene leads to mice with less pigment, and according to latest study the researchers says that, the butterfly’s myosin gene may play a similar role in transporting pigment to the wings. The migrating monarch butterflies are facing a shocking decline, due to factors ranging from deforestation and lack of a severe decline in the Midwest’s milkweed.
This genetic analysis did not put forward any new strategies for saving the monarchs, but it could highlight the importance of protecting an iconic species whose way of life goes back millions of years said by Kronforst.