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PLoS One. 2016 Jan 5;11(1):e0146348. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146348. eCollection 2016.

Butterfly Wings Are Three-Dimensional: Pupal Cuticle Focal Spots and Their Associated Structures in Junonia Butterflies.

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The BCPH Unit of Molecular Physiology, Department of Chemistry, Biology and Marine Science, Faculty of Science, University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0213, Japan.


Butterfly wing color patterns often contain eyespots, which are developmentally determined at the late larval and early pupal stages by organizing activities of focal cells that can later form eyespot foci. In the pupal stage, the focal position of a future eyespot is often marked by a focal spot, one of the pupal cuticle spots, on the pupal surface. Here, we examined the possible relationships of the pupal focal spots with the underneath pupal wing tissues and with the adult wing eyespots using Junonia butterflies. Large pupal focal spots were found in two species with large adult eyespots, J. orithya and J. almana, whereas only small pupal focal spots were found in a species with small adult eyespots, J. hedonia. The size of five pupal focal spots on a single wing was correlated with the size of the corresponding adult eyespots in J. orithya. A pupal focal spot was a three-dimensional bulge of cuticle surface, and the underside of the major pupal focal spot exhibited a hollowed cuticle in a pupal case. Cross sections of a pupal wing revealed that the cuticle layer shows a curvature at a focal spot, and a positional correlation was observed between the cuticle layer thickness and its corresponding cell layer thickness. Adult major eyespots of J. orithya and J. almana exhibited surface elevations and depressions that approximately correspond to the coloration within an eyespot. Our results suggest that a pupal focal spot is produced by the organizing activity of focal cells underneath the focal spot. Probably because the focal cell layer immediately underneath a focal spot is thicker than that of its surrounding areas, eyespots of adult butterfly wings are three-dimensionally constructed. The color-height relationship in adult eyespots might have an implication in the developmental signaling for determining the eyespot color patterns.

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