Maria Pizzano Rose Hills
The Developmental Basis for Silver Spot Formation on the Wings of the Gulf Fritillar
Butterflies are known for the remarkable patterns and colors of their wings. There are precisely arranged rows of microscopic single-cell scales across the wing surface. The color of scales can result from either the biosynthesis of pigments within the scale, or from structural coloration (sometimes both). Structural colors, such as iridescence, are of particular interest because they originate from the interaction of light with complex nanostructures that are found within or at the surface of each scale. A remarkable example of iridescence is seen on the wings of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, Agraulis vanilla, where spots appear silver and almost reflective as a mirror. I am interested in how scale stacking contributes to overall reflectivity, and how actin contributes developmentally to the particular structure, and therefore iridescence, of a silver scale. I will be looking at Gulf Fritillary butterfly wings at the larval, pupal, and adult stages. My work will help to elucidate developmental mechanisms that create structural color.