Monday, November 28, 2011
Monarch Butterfly Genome Sequenced
Monarch butterflies have long been a fascination to scientists for their remarkable migration. Each fall, successive generations of these delicate creatures are able to traverse thousands of miles to find a tiny region only about 300 square miles in size. Each monarch that makes the long journey is at least two generations removed from their predecessors who had made the journey the year before. This phenomenon has mystified scientists for ages. With no relatives on the journey to lead the way and no previous knowledge of the specific overwintering site, monarch butterflies must harbor some genetic program that allows for this migration to occur year after year. That is why the paper published recently in the journal Cell describing the findings and observations from completely sequencing the monarch butterfly's genome was so interesting. The researchers identified genes involved with using the "sun compass," odor receptors that are potentially vital to long-distance migration, and much more.