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Developmental, cellular, and biochemical basis of transparency in the glasswing butterfly Greta oto

Pomerantz, Aaron F. and Siddique, Radwanul H. and Cash, Elizabeth I. and Kishi, Yuriko and Pinna, Charline and Hammar, Kasia and Gomez, Doris and Elias, Marianne and Patel, Nipam H. (2020) Developmental, cellular, and biochemical basis of transparency in the glasswing butterfly Greta oto. . (Unpublished)

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Numerous species of Lepidoptera have transparent wings, which often possess scales of altered morphology and reduced size, and the presence of membrane surface nanostructures that dramatically reduce reflection. Optical properties and anti-reflective nanostructures have been characterized for several ‘clearwing’ Lepidoptera, but the developmental basis of wing transparency is unknown. We apply confocal and electron microscopy to create a developmental time-series in the glasswing butterfly, Greta oto, comparing transparent and non-transparent wing regions. We find that scale precursor cell density is reduced in transparent regions, and cytoskeletal organization differs between flat scales in opaque regions, and thin, bristle-like scales in transparent regions. We also reveal that sub-wavelength nanopillars on the wing membrane are wax-based, derive from wing epithelial cells and their associated microvillar projections, and demonstrate their role in enhancing-anti-reflective properties. These findings provide insight into morphogenesis of naturally organized micro- and nanostructures and may provide bioinspiration for new anti-reflective materials.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Pomerantz, Aaron F.0000-0002-6412-9001
Siddique, Radwanul H.0000-0001-7494-5857
Cash, Elizabeth I.0000-0002-1192-3770
Gomez, Doris0000-0002-9144-3426
Elias, Marianne0000-0002-1250-2353
Patel, Nipam H.0000-0003-4328-654X
Additional Information:The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license. Posted July 02, 2020. We would like to thank the Angie Serrano, Paola Betucci, Idoia Quintana-Urzainqui and Helena Bilandzija from the MBL Embryology Course and Cao Lu Yan from the MBL Physiology Course for their preliminary work on scale morphology of clearwing Lepidoptera, and subsequent work by Jaap van Krugten, Raymundo Picos, and Johnny On at UC Berkeley. We also thank Rachel Thayer, Arnaud Martin, Damien Gailly, Melanie Mcclure, Luca Livraghi, Oscar Paneso, Rémi Mauxion and Owen McMillan for their assistance with fieldwork, rearing, and preliminary experiments. We thank Fred Gagnon of Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens for assistance with butterfly rearing and Neil Tsutsui for support with the GC-MS experiments. Members of the Patel Lab and Craig Miller provided helpful feedback on the manuscript. RHS acknowledges the support from the Beckman Institute of the California Institute of Technology to the Molecular Materials Research Center. This work was supported by a grant from the Human Frontier Science Program (RGP0014/2016), a France-Berkeley fund grant (FBF #2015-58) and an ANR grant (CLEARWING project, ANR-16-CE02-0012). Author contributions: Conceived and designed the experiments: AFP and NHP. Performed the experiments: AFP, RHS, EIC, KH. All authors contributed to analysis of the results, contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools and contributed to writing the paper. The authors declare they have no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Human Frontier Science ProgramRGP0014/2016
France-Berkeley fund grant2015-58
Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (ANR)ANR-16-CE02-0012
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200706-143301403
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Developmental, cellular, and biochemical basis of transparency in the glasswing butterfly Greta oto. Aaron F. Pomerantz, Radwanul H. Siddique, Elizabeth I. Cash, Yuriko Kishi, Charline Pinna, Kasia Hammar, Doris Gomez, Marianne Elias, Nipam H. Patel. bioRxiv 2020.07.02.183590; doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:104230
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Jul 2020 21:52
Last Modified:07 Jul 2020 18:02

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