Evolutionary dynamics of genome size and content during the adaptive radiation of Heliconiini butterflies.


Heliconius butterflies, a speciose genus of Müllerian mimics, represent a classic example of an adaptive radiation that includes a range of derived dietary, life history, physiological and neural traits. However, key lineages within the genus, and across the broader Heliconiini tribe, lack genomic resources, limiting our understanding of how adaptive and neutral processes shaped genome evolution during their radiation. Here, we generate highly contiguous genome assemblies for nine Heliconiini, 29 additional reference-assembled genomes, and improve 10 existing assemblies. Altogether, we provide a dataset of annotated genomes for a total of 63 species, including 58 species within the Heliconiini tribe. We use this extensive dataset to generate a robust and dated heliconiine phylogeny, describe major patterns of introgression, explore the evolution of genome architecture, and the genomic basis of key innovations in this enigmatic group, including an assessment of the evolution of putative regulatory regions at the Heliconius stem. Our work illustrates how the increased resolution provided by such dense genomic sampling improves our power to generate and test gene-phenotype hypotheses, and precisely characterize how genomes evolve.





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Publication Info

Cicconardi, Francesco, Edoardo Milanetti, Erika C Pinheiro de Castro, Anyi Mazo-Vargas, Steven M Van Belleghem, Angelo Alberto Ruggieri, Pasi Rastas, Joseph Hanly, et al. (2023). Evolutionary dynamics of genome size and content during the adaptive radiation of Heliconiini butterflies. Nature communications, 14(1). p. 5620. 10.1038/s41467-023-41412-5 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/29975.

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Anyi Mazo-Vargas

Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Biology

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