Tech UPTechnologyPromiscuous ones survive longer

Promiscuous ones survive longer

promiscuasEighty researchers from 32 research centers at universities and institutions in eight countries have worked on the sequencing of the genome of thepostman butterfly (Heliconius melpomene) and have come to the conclusion that reproduction between different species of Lepidoptera has contributed to the exchange of colors to perfect their mimicry, as published inNature.

Although, as a general rule, butterflies prefer to mate with individuals of their own species, sometimesreproduce with members of other species (Eueides TimaretaYEueides lifted). With them they share genes associated with the design of the colors of their wings, whosecolor composition improves ability to resemble surroundings. Genetic mutations are the common adaptive mechanism of animal species, and in the case of insects, scientists suggest thathybridization (exchange of genetic information between two species) facilitates survival. The butterflies would have improved their mimicry in this way.

The researchers chose this butterfly, which belongs to a genus of 43 different species, because much of the research on the genus Heliconius focuses on this species and its closest relatives, “apart from having a smaller genome,” says James Mallet, from Harvard University (USA). Scientists suspected that the three species Heliconius melpomene, Heliconius timareta, and Heliconius elevatus were close enough to occasionally hybridize. According to Mallet, between one in a thousand and one in ten thousand specimens collected from the wild are hybrids.

For researchers, this project changes the way of understanding adaptation. “It is more convenient for the species to hybridize with others to obtain color patterns than to have to evolve from scratch,” explains Kanchon Dasmahapatra, a researcher at University College London (United Kingdom), in statements to the SINC agency.

The ultimate goal of sequencing is “to understand the origins of biodiversity in most terrestrial ecosystems, such as in the Amazon rainforest,” Mallet clarifies.

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