News from our lab

We opened Casa de Domo!

A butterfly house where we can share knowledge and inspire conservation for these amazing animals and their habitats. There are…

Let’s play Memometic!

Scientists from the National Museum of Natural History in France, and their colleagues, created a game based on the interactions…

Heliconius research on the news!

Our Postdoc, Carolina Concha, was interviewed by La Estrella daily newspaper, to talk about her research on wing color patterns….

Profiled at JEZ-B!

Our Postdoc, Joe Hanly, talks about his scientific with the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B. Dr. Joe Hanly has…

Welcome back, Denise!

Dr. Dell’Aglio has returned and is here to stay for the next year and a half. Denise is a Research…

Welcome to our new lab website!

Thanks to the work of STRI’s IT and Communications teams, you can continue learning about our lab’s research, read about…

Stories from STRI website

Sol Parra

How do genes allow butterflies to mimic
each other’s wing color patterns?

Young entomologist Sol Parra uses gene editing technology to understand how color pattern mimicry evolves in butterflies.

STRI special events May 2022

The World of Pollinators

In celebration of World Bee Day, Panama’s Summit Municipal Park and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) participated in an event on Sunday May 22nd called The World of Pollinators, to educate visitors about bees and other essential pollinators and their role in sustaining biodiversity.


Color and Vision

Art and science on the same wavelength.

Is evolution predictable?

Butterflies take different paths to arrive at the same color pattern

Unrelated butterflies may have the same wing patterns. These patterns warn off predators and help suitors find the right mate. But if wing patterns in each species evolved the same way, knocking out an important gene should have the same effect in both. Carolina Concha and her team discovered that knocking out the WntA gene results in different effects in co-mimics, so the two species evolved the same pattern via different pathways.

Stories from social media

Unrelated species of Heliconius butterflies look almost identical! Does this mean their wing color patterns evolved the same way? Our Postdoc, Carolina Concha, answers this question through her research, providing incredible insights about the genomic basis of evolutionary change.

The video animations were done by Zach Welty based on Carolina’s et al. paper:

Interplay between developmental flexibility and determinism in the evolution of mimetic Heliconius wing patterns (2019) Current Biology29(23), 3996-4009. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.010.