The evolution of wing patterning genes in aposematic and mimetic tiger moths (Lepidoptera: Erebidae: Arctiinae)

Monday, November 11, 2013
Exhibit Hall 4 (Austin Convention Center)
Kasey Chelemedos , Dept. of Biology, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
Heidi Connahs , University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
Katherine Hernandez , University of North Dakota, Grand Folks, ND
Rebecca B. Simmons , Biology, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
A fundamental question in biology centers on understanding the evolution of biological diversity and how it is regulated at the genome level. One of the most dramatic examples of morphological variation is the diversity of colors and patterns observed in nature. Color pattern diversity may be driven by the evolution of signaling molecules that function as morphogens in generating spatial patterns during development. Tiger moths are known for a wide array of brightly colored, aposematic adult forms, as well as precise mimicry of noxious insect species in other orders. We examine the role of selection on the segment polarity gene, Wingless, a morphogen that is known to be involved in the development of wings and color pattern elements. Using PCR and sequencing methods, we construct a phlogeny of Wingless for a subset of tiger moth species. The rate of selection on Wingless will be examined across these lineages. A phylogeny for these moths was previously constructed using nuclear, ribosomal and mitochondrial genes. Preliminary results indicate that mimetic species may display higher rates of evolution in Wingless than other non-mimetic species. The implications of these results in the context of mimicry rings and palatability will also be discussed.