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Proc Biol Sci. 2008 May 22;275(1639):1181-8. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1762.

Colour pattern specification in the Mocker swallowtail Papilio dardanus: the transcription factor invected is a candidate for the mimicry locus H.

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Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum, London, UK.


The swallowtail butterfly, Papilio dardanus, is an iconic example of a polymorphic Batesian mimic. The expression of various female-limited colour forms is thought to be controlled by a single autosomal locus, termed H, whose function in determining the wing pattern remains elusive. As a step towards the physical mapping of H, we established a set of 272 polymorphic amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers (EcoRI-MseI). Segregation patterns in a 'female-informative' brood (exploiting the absence of crossing over in female Lepidoptera) mapped these AFLPs to 30 linkage groups (putative chromosomes). The difference between the hippocoon and cenea female forms segregating in this family resides on a single one of these linkage groups, defined by 14 AFLPs. In a 'male-informative' cross (markers segregating within a linkage group), a pair of AFLPs co-segregated closely with the two female forms, except in four recombinants out of 19 female offspring. Linkage with these AFLP markers using four further female-informative families demonstrated that the genetic factor determining other morphs (poultoni, lamborni and trimeni) also maps to this same linkage group. The candidate gene invected, obtained in a screen for co-segregation of developmental genes with the colour forms, resides in a 13.9 cM interval flanked by the two AFLP markers. In the male-informative family invected co-segregated perfectly with the hippocoon/cenea factor, despite the four crossovers with the AFLPs. These findings make invected, and possibly its closely linked paralogue engrailed, strong candidates for H. This is supported by their known role in eyespot specification in nymphalid butterfly wings.

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