A molecular comparison between long-day and short-day conditioned monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus)

Arturo Salcido, University of Texas at El Paso


The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), a member of the Lepidoptera, is unique in its seasonal migration. Especially fascinating is the population of eastern United States and Canada because of the distance this group travels yearly. In order to understand what factors contribute to this behavior, two essential concepts are required. First, is an understanding of the changing environment from season to season, which may trigger these survival instincts. Second, is the study of the internal mechanisms that are cued by the environment and that are then translated into behavior. In an attempt to better comprehend monarch butterfly behavior, I have focused on an energy storage protein that is expressed in certain behavioral states and not in others. Though this protein is believed to function in development, my experiments have shown its expression far beyond development into adulthood, suggesting other functions. The expression of this protein, which is known to serve as a storage site for nutrients, could potentially play a role in the anticipation of migratory behavior. This reserve storage would be essential for the survival of monarchs during a nutrient scarce period in overwintering sites in Michoacan, Mexico. My experiments have added to the understanding of protein expression in monarch butterflies and the environmental conditions that influence it. ^

Subject Area

Biology, Entomology

Recommended Citation

Salcido, Arturo, "A molecular comparison between long-day and short-day conditioned monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus)" (2004). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAIEP10601.