Evolution at Work – Blue Moon Butterfly
Posted on July 12, 2007 Comments (3)
Scientists believe the comeback is due to “suppressor” genes that control the Wolbachia bacteria that is passed down from the mother and kills the male embryos before they hatch. “To my knowledge, this is the fastest evolutionary change that has ever been observed,” said Sylvain Charlat, of University College London, whose study appears in the journal Science.
“We’re witnessing an evolutionary arms race between the parasite and the host. This strengthens the view that parasites can be major drivers in evolution,” Mr Charlat said.
It makes a great deal of sense that evolution would have such bursts under the right conditions. This seems an nearly perfect example of such conditions – if males can be produced they are going to have a large opening to reproduce and rapidly pass on a new tool to fight the bacteria. The University of California – Berkeley has a good site on understanding evolution (with lesson plans for k-16 and information for anyone interested in science).