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Genetics. 2005 Oct;171(2):557-70. Epub 2004 Oct 16.

A genetic linkage map of the mimetic butterfly Heliconius melpomene.

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  • 1Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK.


Heliconius melpomene is a mimetic butterfly that exhibits great geographic variation in color pattern. We present here a genetic linkage map based on analysis of genetic markers in 73 individuals from a single F(2) family, offspring of a cross between H. m. cythera from western Ecuador and H. m. melpomene from French Guiana. A novel "three-step method" is described for the analysis of dominant markers in an F(2) cross, using outbred parental strains and taking advantage of the lack of crossing over in female Lepidoptera. This method is likely to prove useful for future mapping studies in outbred species with crossing over restricted to one sex, such as the Lepidoptera and Drosophila. The resulting linkage map has 21 linkage groups corresponding to the 21 chromosomes of H. melpomene and includes 219 AFLP markers, 23 microsatellites, 19 single-copy nuclear genes, and the color pattern switch genes Yb and Sb. The marker density is high, averaging >1/7 cM. The total map length is 1616 cM and the average chromosome length is 77 cM. The genome size of H. melpomene was estimated to be 292 Mb, giving a relationship of physical-to-map distance of 180 kb/cM. This map forms the basis for future comparative linkage analysis of color pattern evolution in Heliconius.

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