Marcus Kronforst, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Ecology and Evolution
University of Chicago
1101 E. 57th Street
City, State, ZIP
Chicago, IL 60637-5418
(773) 702-5125
[email protected]
Research field
Genetics, Neuroscience, Evolutionary Biology
Award year


My research explores the genetic and molecular basis of visual attraction. Many organisms depend heavily on sight for navigation and mate selection. As a postdoctoral fellow, I discovered that the same is true of butterflies. Working with closely related species, I found that some male butterflies prefer yellow-winged females, while others court those clad in white. I will now pinpoint the genes linked to color preference, identify the neurons that respond to the different hues, and assess how their activation directs mating behavior, and see whether swapping the color-preference genes between the two species will sway the butterflies' colorful predilections. The results will shed light on the mechanisms of visual attraction and speciation and could also lead to a better understanding of how visual cues can come to trigger potentially harmful choices in human disorders such as addiction.

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