Biologists Showed A Link Between Vitamin A and Brain Reactions in Monarch Butterflies

A team of biologists from Texas A&M University realizes strides in getting better the biological clock function in many versions of the organism. They are also decoding these researches into more full connections for human health.

The Merlin Laboratory from the Texas A&M Department of Biology has discovered genetic proof linking circadian clock genes and clock-set molecular pathways to the Monarch butterfly’s weird skill to feel the variations in day length or photoperiod.

Their research founds a proper linking between clock genes and the vitamin A pathway within the brain of the Monarch butterfly. The Merlin Lab’s research published later in November, not only offers genetic proofs for the photoperiod-clock linking but also shows for the first time that it also sets a crucial vitamin A pathway needed for seasonal responses.

There is a connection between Vitamin A and brain reactions in Monarch butterflies

Christine Merlin, Texas A&M biologist, and 2017 Klingenstein-Simons Fellow explained the importance of the research.

She stated: “Despite decades of research, the molecular and genetic mechanism by which changes in photoperiod are sensed and translated into seasonal changes in animal physiology and behavior have remained poorly understood. While much remains to be learned, our findings pave the way for understanding the mechanisms by which vitamin A operates in the brain translate day length into seasonal physiological and behavioral responses in animals.”

One of the issues the Merlin lab had to face in the research is that vitamin A is needed for the visual function of the Monarch’s compound eyes. Such a thing means that their ninaB1 full-body knockouts would be performed blind. As a fail-safe, the team had to identify a non-genetic way to remove the possible option of the compound eyes as a potential tie-back to the non-existence of photoperiodic answers identified in these new mutant butterflies.

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