Genomics of Butterflies




Zhang, Jing

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The success of next generation sequencing technologies enabled us to study biological questions by comparative genomics of a large group of organisms. We developed methods to sequence and comparatively analyze genomes of butterflies and address general questions of molecular evolution and connection between genotype and phenotype. First, we study mimetic convergence and divergence on a phylogenetic group of butterflies revealing many instances of rapid phenotypic changes between close relatives. Second, we sequence and analyze the genome of a gypsy moth, a notorious pest accidentally introduced to American from Europe and hypothesize about the differences in flight capacity of different moth populations. Third, we study speciation in Texas butterflies and uncover general criteria and molecular mechanisms for speciation across central Texas suture zone. Finally, we obtain whole genome shotgun sequences of all 845 butterfly species recorded from the United States and Canada, and learn about the patterns of their speciation and rapid diversification, connecting them to possible molecular mechanisms such as gene exchange through hybridization. As a result, we see that butterflies are a promising group of model organisms to connect molecular and organismal biology by means of genomics, ripe in future discoveries.

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