Genetic convergence of industrial melanism in three geometrid moths

van't Hof, AE, Reynolds, LA, Yung, CJ, Cook, LM and Saccheri, IJ ORCID: 0000-0003-0476-2347
(2019) Genetic convergence of industrial melanism in three geometrid moths. Biology Letters, 15 (10). 20190582-.

Access the full-text of this item by clicking on the Open Access link.


The rise of dark (melanic) forms of many species of moth in heavily coal-polluted areas of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain, and their post-1970s fall, point to a common selective pressure (camouflage against bird predators) acting at the community level. The extent to which this convergent phenotypic response relied on similar genetic and developmental mechanisms is unknown. We examine this problem by testing the hypothesis that the locus controlling melanism in Phigalia pilosaria and Odontopera bidentata, two species of geometrid moth that showed strong associations between melanism and coal pollution, is the same as that controlling melanism in Biston betularia, previously identified as the gene cortex. Comparative linkage mapping using family material supports the hypothesis for both species, indicating a deeply conserved developmental mechanism for melanism involving cortex. However, in contrast to the strong selective sweep signature seen in British B. betularia, no significant association was detected between cortex-region markers and melanic morphs in wild-caught samples of P. pilosaria and O. bidentata, implying much older, or diverse, origins of melanic morph alleles in these latter species.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lepidoptera, parallel evolution, melanism, cortex
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2019 09:58
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 00:22
DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2019.0582
Open Access URL:
Related URLs: