If you are a Monarch butterfly, how do you fly from Canada to Mexico in one lifetime?

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Rumble, Mary E
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Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are an amazing species that perform the feat of migrating over a thousand miles from Canada to Mexico in one lifetime. We hypothesized that in order to accomplish the migration, the butterflies may have a different flight muscle structure than other insect species. To test this hypothesis, we studied muscle function, and then picked three proteins to analyze through bioinformatics work and PCR/ gel electrophoresis: actin, mp20, and troponin T. We used both the Painted Lady and D. melanogaster as a standard of comparison for our work. We annotated all three of these protein sequences and then checked our findings in the lab. This work showed a recent duplication of the second actin protein in Lepidoptera and differential gene splicing of troponin T in the flight of D. plexippus. Both of these results show the species to have some significant differences in comparison to D. melanogaster.
Monarch Butterfly, Lepidoptera, Bioinformatics, Actin, TroponinT, Mp20, Danuas plexippus