Figure_S3.png from Perfect mimicry between Heliconius butterflies is constrained by genetics and development

Müllerian mimicry strongly exemplifies the power of natural selection. However, the exact measure of such adaptive phenotypic convergence and the possible causes of its imperfection often remain unidentified. Here, we first quantify wing colour pattern differences in the forewing region of 14 co-mimetic races of the butterfly species Heliconius erato and Heliconius melpomene and measure the extent to which mimicking races are not perfectly identical. Next, using recent CRISPR/Cas9 KO experiments of the gene WntA, which has been mapped to colour pattern diversity in these butterflies, we explore the exact areas of the wings in which WntA affects colour pattern formation differently in H. erato and H. melpomene. We find that, while the relative size of the forewing pattern is generally nearly identical between co-mimics, the CRISPR/Cas9 KO results highlight divergent boundaries in the wing that prevent the co-mimics from achieving perfect mimicry. We suggest that this mismatch may be explained by divergence in the gene regulatory network that defines wing colour patterning in both species, thus constraining morphological evolution even between closely related species.