The first lepidopteran genome (Bombyx mori) was published in 2004. Ten years later the genome of Melitaea cinxia came out as the third butterfly genome published, and the first eukaryotic genome sequenced in Finland. Owing to Ilkka Hanski, the M. cinxia system in the Åland Islands has become a famous model for metapopulation biology. More than 20 years of research on this system provides a strong ecological basis upon which a genetic framework could be built. Genetic knowledge is an essential addition for understanding eco-evolutionary dynamics and the genetic basis of variability in life history traits. Here we review the process of the M. cinxia genome project, its implications for lepidopteran genome evolution, and describe how the genome has been used for gene expression studies to identify genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation. Finally, we introduce some future possibilities and challenges for genomic research in M. cinxia and other Lepidoptera.
Journal: Annales Zoologici Fennici