Butterfly Eyespots Reuse Gene Regulatory Network That Patterns Antennae, Legs, and Wings; Findings Highlight That Novel Complex Traits, Such As Eyespots, Can Evolve from Gene Networks That Already Pattern Pre-Existent Complex Traits in the Body

Eyespots, the circular markings of contrasting colours found on the wings of many butterfly species, are used by these fluttering creatures to intimidate or distract predators. A team of scientists led by Professor Antónia Monteiro, PhD, from the National University of Singapore (NUS) conducted a research study to better understand the evolutionary origins of these eyespots, and the researchers discovered that eyespots appear to have derived from the recruitment of a complex network of genes that was already operating in the body of the butterflies to build antennae, legs, and even wings.

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