Butterflies and milkweed

Elizabeth Ordeman || Berkeley Discovery

Rausser College of Natural ResourcesGenetics and Plant Biology

Supporting the research of Professor Noah Whiteman, Elizabeth Ordeman investigates the coevolution of milkweed feeding butterflies and their toxic milkweed plant hosts. Milkweed butterflies, such as the Monarch, have evolved specific genetic mutations in their sodium potassium pump that confer resistance to the toxins found in milkweed plants. To determine which evolutionary forces have given rise to these adaptive mutations, we are conducting feeding experiments and sodium pump assays with Drosophila flies that have been engineered with CRISPR-Cas9 to contain the same mutations as the milkweed butterflies.

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