Monarch butterflies eat only milkweed, a poisonous plant that should kill them. The butterflies thrive on it, even storing milkweed toxins in their bodies as a defense against hungry birds. For decades, scientists have marveled at this adaptation. Recently, a team of researchers announced they had pinpointed the key evolutionary steps that led to this adaptation.
Noah Whiteman, an Associate Professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, led the effort in this research project to discover the mutations responsible for the evolutionary process. “These three mutations may be the thing that unlocked the door” for the butterflies, he said.
Read more about this research project here.