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DNA to flutter by

Monarchs’ genetic instructions help meet migration, navigation needs

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2:10pm, November 23, 2011

Scientists have deciphered the complete genetic instruction book of monarch butterflies. It is the first butterfly genome completed and the first of a long-distance migrating insect.

Within the butterfly’s genetic archive, neurobiologist Steven Reppert of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and his colleagues found genes that may help the insects sense the position of the sun and navigate to fir trees in Mexico, where they spend the winter. Reporting in the Nov. 23 Cell, the team also notes that monarchs make more of certain small genetic molecules, called microRNAs, that are involved in building muscle, regulating temperatur

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