Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Taste sensor' genes in female butterflies vital to species' survival

Date:
July 11, 2013
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Giving the phrase "Mother knows best" a whole new meaning, researchers have identified unique genes in female butterflies that enable them to select the best host plant for their larvae -- and avoid deadly ones.

Giving the phrase "Mother knows best" a whole new meaning, UC Irvine researchers have identified unique genes in female butterflies that enable them to select the best host plant for their larvae -- and avoid deadly ones.

Biologist Adriana Briscoe and colleagues found that females of the Heliconius species express gustatory, or taste, receptor genes when choosing a host on which to lay their eggs. Many plants defend themselves by producing toxic chemicals, so it's vital to their larvae's survival that the butterflies pick the right kind. Heliconius females have 80 taste organs called sensilla on their forelegs that they use to sample potential host plants, while male butterflies have none.

"This study is important for understanding the co-evolution of butterfly species and their host plants, uncovers a new set of genes critical to the species' survival, and reveals that female butterfly behavior shapes the hereditary makeup of butterflies," said Briscoe, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and lead author of the paper, which will be published online July 11 in PLOS Genetics.

Heliconius females choose young, robust passionflower vines to host their larvae. They're so selective that they inspect a number of vines multiple times daily for other butterfly larvae and deficient leaves that are not healthy enough to sustain larvae or produce toxic chemicals before deciding on which specific vine to lay their eggs. Healthy passionflower vines are a limited commodity indigenous to rainforests in Mexico, Central America and South America.

Briscoe and her team have published other studies on butterflies, including a 2010 one in which they found that butterfly species with a duplicate gene allowing them to see ultraviolet colors also have ultraviolet-yellow pigment on their wings, helping them identify appropriate mates in a timely manner.

Additional contributors to the current work were Aide Macias-Muñoz and Furong Yuan of UC Irvine; Chris D. Jiggins, Krzysztof M. Kozak, Gabriel A. Jamie and Simon H. Martin of the University of Cambridge; James R. Walters of Stanford University; Kanchon K. Dasmahapatra of England's University of York; Laura C. Ferguson of the University of Oxford; James Mallet of Harvard University; and Emmanuelle Jacquin-Joly of France's National Institute for Agricultural Research.

The study was supported in part by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Adriana D. Briscoe, Aide Macias-Muñoz, Krzysztof M. Kozak, James R. Walters, Furong Yuan, Gabriel A. Jamie, Simon H. Martin, Kanchon K. Dasmahapatra, Laura C. Ferguson, James Mallet, Emmanuelle Jacquin-Joly, Chris D. Jiggins. Female Behaviour Drives Expression and Evolution of Gustatory Receptors in Butterflies. PLoS Genetics, 2013; 9 (7): e1003620 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003620

Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "'Taste sensor' genes in female butterflies vital to species' survival." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711172530.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2013, July 11). 'Taste sensor' genes in female butterflies vital to species' survival. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711172530.htm
University of California - Irvine. "'Taste sensor' genes in female butterflies vital to species' survival." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711172530.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) — The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins