We all want a bit of L-O-V-E, from homo sapiens, through to dolphins and of course the various sub-groups of the Heliconius toxic butterfly species.
Scientists are intrigued by two central American sub-species in particular – the red-winged Heliconius Melpomene Rosina and the white-winged Heliconius Cydno Chioneus. This pair have been part of the same ecosystem for a million years and competed for the same resources and yet have remained genetically distinct with very few instances of interbreeding.
One evolutionary explanation posits that these species haven’t blended through the generations because any off spring would have a blend of wing patterns. This would be a free-for-all for other predators who only identify danger in the distinct red or white-winged patterns of Melpomene and Cydno respectively. Therefore, being an easy target means hybrid butterfly babies don’t live long enough to pass on their own mixed genes.
But why won’t Melpomene and Cydno get it on? The recently published journal PLOS biology attributes this lack of romance to genetics. The team of researches believe to have found which parts of the genome determine mating preferences.
It’s also understood that there is a link between wing patterning and mating preference. The genes that are said to have an influence on mating preference are located very close to the Optix which is responsible for the colouring of the butterfly species’ wings. Although this is not firmly understood, scientists are optimistic that cameras and machine learning will help identify exactly what the processes are.
This case in genetics is called ‘reproductive isolating’ and it’s definitely a great topic for biologists to explore in their personal statements and interviews.
- Human Social and Political Science (HSPS) Reading List If you are applying for HSPS at Cambridge, it is... Read more >
- Cambridge Language Test overview If you’re applying for Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge,... Read more >
- What You Need To Know About A Level Reforms The A Level system that has been in place since... Read more >
- Course By Course Fact Sheet This helpful guide sets out by course what grades you... Read more >
- Personal Statement Solution: Brainstorm Sheet Writing your personal statement may just be the grimmest part... Read more >
- Music Scholarships There is a wide range of musical scholarships available to... Read more >
- ELAT overview If you’re applying for English, or its joint schools, you... Read more >
- University Admissions Tests: How Would You Reply? Here we have a few questions and answers to sample... Read more >
- What’s so special about Oxford and Cambridge? Both Oxford and Cambridge have fearsome reputations. The Oxbridge system... Read more >
- College selection checklist Your college at Oxford or Cambridge is where you will... Read more >
- March’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Choosing The Right A-Levels Picking subjects at A level can be a difficult decision... Read more >
- TSA overview A huge range of subjects at both Oxford and Cambridge... Read more >
- Taking a Gap Year There are a number of advantages to taking a gap... Read more >
- Download a Biology Personal Statement “Assisting with the post mortem of a dairy cow during... Read more >
- Personal statement: our tips in the Independent Here are 3 quick tips every hopeful should consider before... Read more >
- February’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Stats report: our annual survey Every year, we survey hundreds of applicants who applied the... Read more >
- UCAS: A How To Guide The process of applying to university through UCAS can seem... Read more >
- The Most Competitive Subjects At Oxbridge (And How To Choose Wisely) Oxford and Cambridge are two of the best universities in the... Read more >
- Cambridge Law Test overview If you’re applying to read Law at Cambridge you will probably need... Read more >
- PAT mini mock paper & answers The Physics Aptitude Test or PAT is required by Oxford... Read more >
- BMAT mini mock paper & answers With over 90% of applicants now preparing for the admissions... Read more >
- Are my grades good enough for Oxbridge? Grades are an area of much misunderstanding when it comes... Read more >