That's part of the creative title of a seminar that Arnaud Martin, assistant professor of biology, George Washington University, Washington, DC, will deliver next week to the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Martin, an evolutionary geneticist who studies butterfly wing patterns, will speak on "Do Butterflies Dream of Genetic Tattoos? Exploring the Genotype-Phenotype Map Using CRISPR" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar at noon, Friday, Oct. 19 in 122 Briggs Hall, announced seminar coordinator Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
CRISPR is an abbreviation for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. Definition: Segments of DNA containing short, repetitive base sequences in a palindromic repeat (the sequence of nucleotides is the same in both directions).
"He is doing some really cool work investigating the mechanisms underlying wing patterning in butterflies using CRISPR to knock out genes that regulate those mechanisms," said Attardo, who noted that the seminar was initially scheduled for 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17 but was changed to noon, Friday, Oct. 19.
Martin, who researches the evolutionary and developmental genetics of butterflies and moths, was recently quoted in a Washington Post article (Sept. 19, 2017) titled "Mutant Butterflies Reveal the Genetic Roots of Colorful Wings." Reporter Ben Guarino wrote: "Engineered mutant butterflies give a glimpse deep into the genetic roots of wing patterns, an international team reported Monday in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences. The authors of the new study rearranged colors on butterfly wings by deleting a single gene using a genome editing tool called CRISPR. The gene's absence had a dramatic effect in sever butterfly species, including some that aren't closely related."
"We use butterfly wing patterns as a proxy to understand fundamental rules about the function of genes," Martin told Guarino.
About his UC Davis talk: "Understanding the generative mechanisms of morphological diversification requires the routine manipulation of genomes in a comparative context," Martin says. "I will present how current work using CRISPR mutagenesis has allowed to decipher developmental mechanisms behind the diversification of a spectacular of morphological radiation: the color wing patterns of butterflies. These experiments illustrate how evo-devo can delve into the genome-to-phenome relationship at different taxonomic nodes, from population levels to more macro-evolutionary scales. I will discuss this principle in the broader context of GepheBase (www.gephebase.org), a database of known genotype-phenotype that compiles from the literature more than 1600 allele pairs across all Eukaryotes."
Martin received his doctorate in biological sciences in 2010 from UC Irvine (thesis: "The Developmental Genetics of Color Pattern Evolution in Butterflies.") He then did postdoctoral research at Cornell University and UC Berkeley before joining the Department of Biological Sciences at George Washington University in January 2016.
He's the principal investigator on a $414,266 National Science Foundation grant (2017-2020) on "Collaborative Research: cis-Regulatory Basis of Butterfly Wing Pattern Evolution," and co-author of a research article on "CRISPR/Cas9 as the Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Butterfly Wing Pattern Development and Its Evolution," published in December 2017 in Advances in Insect Physiology.
The abstract: "With the exception of a few moth and butterfly species, gene-editing tools in Lepidoptera have been lagging behind other well-studied insects. In order to elucidate gene function across the order, it is necessary to establish tools that enable such gene manipulation. CRISPR/Cas9 is a promising technique and here we review the recent progress made in implementing the technique in butterflies; from broad patterning of the wing, to the development of specific colours in particular wing sections, to eyespot formation. The often species-specific responses to the CRISPR/Cas9-induced mutations in candidate genes, underscore the significance of these genes in the wide evolutionary diversification of butterfly wing patterns. We further discuss potential caveats in the interpretation of the resulting mutant phenotypes obtained through CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. Finally, we discuss the possibilities CRISPR/Cas9 offers beyond mere knockout of candidate genes, including the potential for the generation of transgenics that will further elucidate the developmental genetic basis for wing pattern evolution."
Attardo says the seminar will be recorded and posted at a later date.
When you head over to a nursery, and see bees and butterflies and other pollinators foraging on the plants, that's a good sign.
Buy the plants.
Promise: The pollinators will come.
Many gardeners and would-be gardeners are looking forward to the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Plant Sale--the "first entirely open-to-the-public plant sale of the fall season." It's set from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13 in the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, near the School of Veterinary Medicine.
Members of the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden and the Davis Botanical Society receive 10 percent off their purchases. You can join online, at the door, or call ahead, officials say. New members receive a $10-off coupon as a thank you for joining.
That's a good incentive.
What plants are they offering? Download the inventory.
Meanwhile, summer has ended, fall crept in on Sept. 23, and winter is fast approaching--Dec. 21.
We caught a little sliver left of mellow mornings last weekend in the Kate Frey Pollinator Garden at Sonoma Cornerstone. An anise swallowtail, Papilio zelicaon, fluttered in, touched down to sip some nectar, and soared off. What a sight to see!
Buy a plant (help the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden), and promise, the pollinators that will surely come are free!
That's what we've been told for years. We hear that butterflies don't like the red ones, and that they may, in fact, be poisonous to them.
We've grown both in our pollinator garden in Vacaville, Calif. Both flourished. However, we removed the red passionflower vine, P. jamesonii, because the Gulf Frits avoided it. They lay their eggs--and quite profusely, too--on our lavender passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), also called "Maypop." (In fact, every year they skeletonize them. Hungry, hungry caterpillars!)
Which brings us to the question from a reader: "I have the Maypop and Purple Passionvine, which is working well as a host plant for the Gulf Frit. I recently bought a Red Passionvine and then read it is poisonous to the Gulf Frit. Is it true?"
We asked butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, who has monitored butterfly populations in Central California for more than four decades and publishes his research and observations on his website.
"They don't use some of the red-flowered species," Shapiro says. "I don't know if they're actually poisonous. I've never found the bug on P. jamesonii around Ohlone Park in Berkeley, where there's tons of it. There's a large plant at the northwest corner of 3rd and B in Davis that may be this species, and they don't use it, either."
P. jamesoni, also known as "Coral Seas," (one of some 500 varieties in the world, see Wikipedia for the full list) is indeed striking with its brilliant red flowers.
As an aside, P. jamesoni is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. That would be the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which describes itself "an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resource an international organization."
Justification for Being on the Red List:
"Passiflora jamesonii is endemic to the Ecuadorean Andes, where it is known from five subpopulations on both sides of the range. Only one subpopulation is inside Ecuador's protected areas network. The species seems to prefer untouched areas, so fires are a severe threat," according to the IUCN Red List.
Ever seen a Gulf Fritillary butterfly laying an egg?
The Gulf Frit (Agraulis vanillae), an orangish-reddish butterfly of the family Nymphalidae, lays its eggs on its host plant, Passiflora.
When you see its silver-spangled underwings, you may think there are two different butterflies. In the photo below, it's laying eggs on the tendrils of the passionflower vine.
It first appeared in California in the vicinity of San Diego in the 1870s, according to noted butterfly researcher Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis. He's been monitoring the butterflies of central California for four decades and provides information on his website at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu.
From San Diego, “it spread through Southern California in urban settings and was first recorded in the Bay Area about 1908," says Shapiro. "It became a persistent breeding resident in the East and South Bay in the 1950s and has been there since.”
Shapiro says it “apparently bred in the Sacramento area and possibly in Davis in the 1960s, becoming extinct in the early 1970s, then recolonizing again throughout the area since 2000.”
We never tire of seeing them. Especially the silver-spangled underwings!
The fair opened Friday, July 13 and continues through Sunday, July 29.
You'll see beneficial insects, such as honey bees and lady beetles (aka lady bugs) and pests that ravage our crops.
"Danger lurks in a backyard garden," a sign informs visitors. "Aphids, cutworms, mealybugs and other pests are preying on your vegetables and flowers. Who's a gardener to turn to for help? Bring in the reinforcements and enlist the aid of Beneficial Bugs that will crusade against the Invasive Species and help keep your pest outbreaks under control. Native plants naturally attract these Beneficial Bugs, equipping your garden with its own pest managers. Low costs and low water--It's a win/win!"
Madagascar hissing cockroaches from the Bohart draw "oohs" and "yecchs." Visitors learn that "these cockroaches inhabit Madagascar, a large island off southeastern Africa. They speed up plant decomposition in their native environment, providing an important ecological service. When provoked, Madagascar hissing cockroaches hiss through their spiracles, the tiny tubes through which insects breathe. Spiracles are visible on adults as tiny black dots on the edges of their bodies."
Another sign meant to engage visitors reads: "If you were a bug, which would you be?" You'll see images of everything from a butterfly to a dragonfly, from a honey bee and lady bug, and from an assassin bug to a praying mantis, not to mention a grasshopper, cockroach, ant, and spider.
- One teenage girl poked her head through the Bug Barn door, glanced at the displays, and dashed off, proclaiming "Bugs give me the creeps!"
- A middle-aged woman declared to all present: "I hate, hate bugs!"
- A preschooler pointed to the butterflies. "Pretty, Mommy, pretty!"
- A toddler left the Bug Barn waving at the honey bees. "Bye, bye, bees!" he said.
The good, the bad and the bugly.
Want to see more insects? The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis, is hosting two summer weekend programs, one in August and one in September. hey're free, family friendly and open to the public:
- "Fire and Ice: Extreme California Insects" from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19
- "Crafty Insects" from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22.
"For the Aug. 19 open house, we will be exploring extreme insects from the deserts and the mountains of California," said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. "For Sept. 22 we will be having a two-way museum. We will be displaying crafty--think cunning--insects and we are going to ask people to bring insect crafts that they have made, so all those felted, knitted, carved, and sculpted crafts are welcome. Any and all hand-made, flea-shaped tea cozies are welcomed!"
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses some eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas and praying mantids) and a year-around gift shop.