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Nature. 1996 Nov 21;384(6606):236-42.

Development, plasticity and evolution of butterfly eyespot patterns.

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  • 1Institute of Evolutionary and Ecological Sciences, University of Leiden, Kaiserstraat 63, Postbus 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands.


The developmental and genetic bases for the formation, plasticity and diversity of eyespot patterns in butterflies are examined. Eyespot pattern mutants, regulatory gene expression, and transplants of the eyespot developmental organizer demonstrate that eyespot position, number, size and colour are determined progressively in a developmental pathway largely uncoupled from those regulating other wing-pattern elements and body structures. Species comparisons and selection experiments suggest that the evolution of eyespot patterns can occur rapidly through modulation of different stages of this pathway, and requires only single, or very few, changes in regulatory genes.

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