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Genes help monarchs migrate

Activity of 40 genes differs in butterflies that stay put versus those that travel south

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4:18pm, March 31, 2009

Come fall, monarch butterflies feel the need for a change in latitude. A new study shows that changes in the activity of a suite of genes in the butterflies’ brains help the insects find their way to overwintering grounds in Mexico.

Steven Reppert, a neurobiologist from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, leads a team of scientists on a mission to uncover the monarch’s migratory signals. The team describes a new genetic analysis of stationary summer monarchs and fall migratory monarchs in the March 31 BMC Biology.

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