From butterflies to eucalyptus: the genomics of adaptation



New genomic techniques provide powerful tools to study adaptation in non-model organisms. I begin by discussing my research in Heliconius butterflies. The wing color patterns of Heliconius butterflies show extensive phenotypic diversity within species and remarkable mimicry between species. Using population genomic techniques, we identified a narrow non-coding genomic region modulating red color pattern variation in two distantly related co-mimics. Using phylogenetic analyses, we infer that the adaptive allele had a single origin within each species, but evolved independently between the two species. I will then discuss my research applying genomic techniques to Eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus are foundation species across much of Australia and are the focus of reforestation efforts. We seek to understand the genetic basis of adaptation in two widespread species to various climatic variables. This understanding will enable the selection of seed for reforestation that are pre-adapted to predicted future climates.


Megan Supple received her PhD in Biomathematics from North Carolina State University in August of 2014. She conducted her dissertation research as a fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. She used population genomics techniques to understand the genetic basis and evolutionary history of divergence and mimicry in Heliconius butterflies. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Borevitz lab at the Australian National University. She is using landscape genomic techniques to understand climate adaptation in Eucalyptus.


Supple MA, Papa R, Counterman BA, and McMillan WO. 2014. The genomics of an adaptive radiation: Insights across the Heliconius speciation continuum. In C. Landry and N. Aubin-Horth (editors), Ecological Genomics: Ecology and the Evolution of Genes and Genomes. Springer, New York, NY.

Supple MA, Hines HM, Dasmahapatra KK, Lewis JJ, Nielsen DM, Lavoie C, Ray DA, Salazar C, McMillan WO, and Counterman BA. 2013. Genomic architecture of adaptive color pattern divergence and convergence in Heliconius butterflies. Genome Research. doi: 10.1101/gr.150615.112

The Heliconius Genome Consortium. 2012. Butterfly genome reveals promiscuous exchange of mimicry adaptations among species. Nature 487: 94-98.

Date & time

1–2pm 26 February 2015


Gould Seminar Room, (Rm 235) Gould Building (Bldg. 116), Daley Road, ANU


Dr Megan Ann Supple, Borevitz Lab, Plant Science, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University


 Ajay Narendra
 6125 4799

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