Variation of chemical compounds in wild Heliconiini reveals ecological and historical contributions to the evolution of chemical defences in mimetic butterflies

Ombeline Sculfort, Érika Pinheiro De Castro, Krzysztof Kozak, Søren Bak, Marianne Elias, Bastien Nay & Violaine Llaurens
Evolutionary convergence of colour pattern in mimetic species is tightly linked with the evolution of chemical defences. Yet, the evolutionary forces involved in natural variations of chemical defences in aposematic species are still understudied. Herein, we focus on the evolution chemical defences in the butterfly tribe Heliconiini. These neo-tropical butterflies contain large concentrations of cyanogenic glucosides, cyanide-releasing compounds acting as predator deterrent. These compounds are either de novo synthesized or sequestered from their Passiflora host-plant,...
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