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Welcome! This is the web portal for the Heliconius butterfly genome project. Here you will find easy-to-use web interfaces for searching, browsing, and downloading Heliconius sequence data.

Why Heliconius?

Heliconius is a tropical genus of ~40 species that has been extensively studied because of its extraordinary diversity and ecology. These butterflies are well known for their wing pattern mimicry and many species in the genus show extreme wing pattern variation that enables local populations to join wing pattern “mimicry rings” to warn predators about their unpalatability. The within-species color pattern variation found in Heliconius is appealing to evolutionary biologists because genetic crosses between butterflies from different populations make it possible to study the genetic basis of adaptive variation.

In addition to wing pattern mimicry Heliconius shows a number of other unusual adaptations. They are the only group of butterflies that consistently feed on pollen – an activity that is thought to be responsible for their unusual longevity and fecundity. Heliconius are also highly social compared to other butterflies. Adults tend to live in small home ranges for most of their lives and visit the same resources (i.e. nectar, pollen, and hostplants) on an almost daily basis as they patrol memorized trapline networks. Every evening Heliconius butterflies gather into communal roosts to rest for the night.

We hope that the genomic resources presented here will help facilitate further work on the genetic underpinnings of the extraordinary adaptations seen in Heliconius.

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