Industrial Melanism in British Peppered Moths Has a Singular and Recent Mutational Origin

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Science  14 Apr 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1203043


The rapid spread of a novel black form of the peppered moth (known as carbonaria) in 19th-century Britain is a textbook example of how an altered environment may produce morphological adaptation through genetic change. However, the underlying genetic basis of the difference between the wild-type (light colored) and carbonaria form has remained unknown. We have genetically mapped the carbonaria morph to a 200 kb region orthologous to a segment of silkworm chromosome 17, and show that there is only one core sequence variant associated with the carbonaria morph, carrying a signature of recent strong selection. Intriguingly, the carbonaria region coincides with major wing patterning loci in other lepidopteran systems, suggesting the existence of basal color patterning regulators in this region.