Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Genet. 2015 Apr;47(4):405-9. doi: 10.1038/ng.3241. Epub 2015 Mar 9.

A genetic mechanism for female-limited Batesian mimicry in Papilio butterfly.

Author information

Department of Integrated Biosciences, University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan.
Department of Biological Information, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Meguro-ku, Japan.
1] Department of Integrated Biosciences, University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan. [2] Laboratory for Morphogenetic Signaling, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Kobe, Japan.
Department of Computational Biology, University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan.
Department of Medical Genome Sciences, University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan.
1] Center for Information Biology, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Japan. [2] Principle of Informatics, National Institute of Informatics, Chiyoda-ku, Japan.
Kazusa DNA Research Institute, Kisarazu, Japan.
JT Biohistory Research Hall, Takatsuki, Japan.
Center for Gene Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.


In Batesian mimicry, animals avoid predation by resembling distasteful models. In the swallowtail butterfly Papilio polytes, only mimetic-form females resemble the unpalatable butterfly Pachliopta aristolochiae. A recent report showed that a single gene, doublesex (dsx), controls this mimicry; however, the detailed molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Here we determined two whole-genome sequences of P. polytes and a related species, Papilio xuthus, identifying a single ∼130-kb autosomal inversion, including dsx, between mimetic (H-type) and non-mimetic (h-type) chromosomes in P. polytes. This inversion is associated with the mimicry-related locus H, as identified by linkage mapping. Knockdown experiments demonstrated that female-specific dsx isoforms expressed from the inverted H allele (dsx(H)) induce mimetic coloration patterns and simultaneously repress non-mimetic patterns. In contrast, dsx(h) does not alter mimetic patterns. We propose that dsx(H) switches the coloration of predetermined wing patterns and that female-limited polymorphism is tightly maintained by chromosomal inversion.

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Publication type, MeSH terms, Secondary source ID

Publication type

MeSH terms

Secondary source ID

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center