region not only allows insects to mimic each other, as in Heliconius, but also to mimic the soot blackened background of the industrial revolution - it's a gene that really packs an evolutionary punch," Professor Richard ffrench-Constant of the University of Exeter added.
numata's wing pattern is controlled by a "supergene" - a cluster of several genes in one part of a single gene package, or chromosome.
The "supergene" clustering allows genetic combinations for mimicry favoured by natural selection to be maintained.
Whereas cancer-causing supergenes
run in only a few families, polymorphisms are part of everyone's genetic heritage.
This will shed light on a major transition in social evolution and have wide-reaching implications on the evolution of supergenes
and the spread of novel traits.
These mimetic systems are often controlled by coadapted supergene
complexes with several closely linked loci.