UC Irvine Biologists Find What Colors a Butterfly’s World; Study Identifies First Known Gene Change in Sex-Differentiated Vision

As butterflies flit among flowers, they don’t all view blossoms the same way. In a phenomenon called sexually dimorphic vision, females of some butterfly species perceive ultraviolet color, while the males see light and dark. University of California, Irvine (UCI) biologists have discovered that in at least one species, the variation results from a vision gene’s jump onto a sex chromosome. It’s the first known finding that this kind of genetic change causes sexually dimorphic vision. The study was published on August 8, 2023 in PNAS (link to open-access study:  https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2301411120). The open-access article is titled “Sex-Linked Gene Traffic Underlies the Acquisition of Sexually Dimorphic UV Color Vision in Heliconius Butterflies.”
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