Génétique et Ecologie Evolutive

Mathieu JORON

Directeur de Recherche / Senior scientist

I study the evolution of adaptive diversity, using colour patterns in butterflies as a model. In my group, we integrate many different approaches, including ecology, genetics, and modelling, to try and untangle how multiple factors influence the evolution and maintenance of diversity and polymorphisms.

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Campus du CNRS
1919, route de Mende
34293 Montpellier 5

Tél : +33/0 4 67 61 32 03
Fax : +33/0 4 67 61 33 36



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Thèmes de recherche

We study the evolution of adaptive diversity, using colour patterns in butterflies as a model. Butterflies have very diverse colour patterns with clear adaptive functions such as camouflage, sexual signalling, thermoregulation, or advertisement to predators. We integrate many different approaches to try and untangle how multiple factors influence the evolution and maintenance of diversity and polymorphisms.

Our approaches include in-depth genetic and genomic studies to decipher the molecular basis of phenotypic variation. We document the composite nature of genomes in which different loci have radically different evolutionary histories, depending on how they influence fitness, or factors such as hybridization, drift or recombination suppression. We are now starting to discover how gene networks underlie pattern formation and its natural variation.

To understand the forces shaping phenotypes, we use diverse approaches at the level of populations and communities, including population genetics, community ecology and behavioural ecology. We then have a better understanding of the mechanisms maintaining the diversity of molecular variants at functional loci.

We also try to understand and quantify the structure of phenotypic variation and morphospace occupancy using various types of morphometric approaches.

Our approaches provide the tools towards a better understanding of the evolution of adaptive traits, and their importance from individual physiology to the shaping of entire communities.


Site personnel


Bref CV

Since 2015. CNRS Researcher DR2, UMR 5175 'Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive', CNRS, Montpellier

2012. Habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR). Université Paris Sud, Orsay.

2008. CNRS Researcher, Institut de Systématique, Evolution et Biodiversité (UMR 7205 ), Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris

2007. Royal Society University Research Fellow. Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK

2007. BBSRC Research Fellow. Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter in Cornwall, Falmouth, UK

2005. EMBO fellow. Institute of Biology, Leiden University, The Netherlands

2004. Post-doctoral researcher, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK

2002. Marie-Curie (E.U.) Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Biology, University College London, UK

2001. Post-doctoral researcher, Institute of Biology, Leiden University, The Netherlands

2000. Thèse de doctorat (PhD). Université de Montpellier, France

1997. Teaching assistant. Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution, Université de Montpellier, France



For PDF reprints, please visit my personal webpage

de Silva DL, Motas L, Chazot N, Mallarino R, Silva-Brandão KL, Gomez LM, Freitas AVL, Lamas G, Joron M, Mallet J, Giraldo CE, Uribe S, Särkinen T, Knapp S, Jiggins CD, Willmott KR, Elias M (xxxx). Northern Andean origin and diversification of the Neotropical butterfly genus Pteronymia. In review

Chouteau M, Llaurens V, Piron-Prunier F & Joron M (xxxx). Polymorphism at a mimicry supergene maintained by opposing frequency dependent selection pressures. In review

Llaurens V, Whibley A & Joron M (2017). Genetic architecture and balancing selection: life and death of differentiated variants. Molecular Ecology, in press.

Aubier T, Joron M and Sherratt TN (2017). Mimicry among unequally defended prey should be mutualistic when predators sample optimally. The American Naturalist, in press (publisehd ahead of print).

Chazot N, Willmott K, de Silva DL, Condamine FL, Freitas AVL, Lamas G, Morlon H, Joron M, Jiggins C, Uribe S, Mallet J, Giraldo-Sanchez CE and Elias M (2017). Into the Andes: multiple independent colonizations drive montane diversity in the Neotropical clearwing butterflies Godyridina. Molecular Ecology, in press.

Nadeau NJ, Pardo-Diaz C, Whibley A, Supple MA, Saenko SV, Wallbank RWR, Wu GC, Maroja L, Ferguson L, Hanly JJ, Hines H, Salazar C, Merrill RM, Dowling AJ, ffrench-Constant RH, Llaurens V, Joron M, McMillan OW, and Jiggins C (2016). The gene cortex controls mimicry and crypsis in butterflies and moths. Nature 534:106–110. doi:10.1038/nature17961

Piron Prunier F, Chouteau M, Whibley A, Joron M and Llaurens V (2016). Selection of valid reference genes for reverse transcription quantitative PCR analysis in Heliconius numata. Journal of Insect Science 16(1):(in press) doi:10.1093/jisesa/iew034

Mérot C, Le Poul Y, Théry M and Joron M (2016). Mimicry refinement: Phenotypic variations tracking the local optimum. Journal of Animal Ecology, 85:1056-1069. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12521

Chouteau M, Arias M and Joron M (2016). Warning signals are under positive frequency-dependent selection in nature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 113(8):2164–2169. doi:10.1073/pnas.1519216113

Davey JW, Chouteau M, Barker SL, Maroja L, Baxter SW, Simpson F, Joron M, Mallet J, Dasmahapatra KK and Jiggins CD (2016). Major improvements to the Heliconius melpomene genome assembly used to confirm 10 chromosome fusion events in 6 million years of butterfly evolution. G3: Genes Genomes Genetics 6(3):695-708. doi:10.1534/g3.115.023655

Wallbank RWR, Baxter SW, Pardo-Diaz C, Hanley JJ, Martin SH, Mallet J, Dasmahapatra KK, Salazar C, Reed R, Joron M, Nadeau NJ, McMillan OW, and Jiggins CD (2016). Evolutionary novelty in a butterfly wing pattern through enhancer shuffling. PLOS Biology 14(1): e1002353. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002353

Llaurens V, Joron M and Billiard S (2015). The evolution of dominance and its underlying molecular mechanisms in Müllerian mimicry. Evolution 69(12):3097–3108. doi:10.1111/evo.12810

Mérot C, Frérot B, Leppik E and Joron M (2015). Beyond magic traits: multimodal mating cues in Heliconius butterflies. Evolution 69(11):2891-2904. doi:10.1111/evo.12789

Merrill RM, Dasmahapatra KK, Davey J, Dell'Aglio D, Hanley JJ, Jiggins C, Joron M, Kozak KM, Llaurens V, Martin SH, Montgomery SH, Morris J, Nadeau NJ, Pinharanda A, Rosser N, Thompson D, Vanjari S, Wallbank RWR, and Yu Q (2015). The diversification of Heliconius butterflies: What have we learned in 150 years? Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28:1417–1438. doi:10.1111/jeb.12672

Huber B, Le Poul Y, Whibley A, Navarro N, Martin A, Baxter S, Shah AB, Gilles B, Wirth T, McMillan OW, and Joron M (2015). Conservatism and novelty in the genetic architecture of adaptation in Heliconius butterflies. Heredity, 114:515–524. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2015.22

Chouteau M, Whibley A, Angers B, & Joron M (2015). The development of microsatellite loci from a reference genome in the Neotropical butterfly Heliconius numata and its close relatives. Entomological Science 18(2):283-287. doi:10.1111/ens.12121

Le Poul Y, Whibley A, Chouteau M, Prunier F, Llaurens V, & Joron M (2014). Evolution of dominance mechanisms at a butterfly mimicry supergene. Nature Communications 5:5644. doi:10.1038/ncomms6644

Timmermans MJTN, Baxter SW, Clark R, Heckel DG, Vogel H, Collins S, Papanicolaou A, Fuková I, Joron M, Thompson M, Jiggins CD, ffrench-Constant RH, & Vogler AP (2014). Comparative genomics of the mimicry switch in Papilio dardanus. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281(1787):20140465. doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0465

Llaurens V, M Joron & M Théry (2014). Cryptic differences in color among Müllerian mimics: how can the visual capacities of predators and prey shape the evolution of wing colors?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 27(3):531-540. doi:10.1111/jeb.12317

Llaurens V, S Billiard & M Joron (2013). The effect of dominance on polymorphism in Müllerian mimicry. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 337:101-110. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2013.08.006

Jones R, Y Le Poul, A Whibley, C Mérot, R ffrench-Constant & M Joron (2013). Wing shape variation associated with mimicry in butterflies. Evolution 67(8):2323-2334. doi: 10.1111/evo.12114

Mérot C, J Mavárez, KK Dasmahapatra, J Mallet, G Lamas M., and M Joron (2013). Genetic differentiation without mimicry shift in a pair of hybridizing Heliconius species. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 109(4):830-847. doi: 10.1111/bij.12091

The Heliconius Genome Consortium (2012). Butterfly genome reveals promiscuous exchange of mimicry adaptations among species. Nature 487:94-98. doi: 10.1038/nature11041

Pardo-Diaz C, C Salazar, SW Baxter, C Mérot, W Figueiredo-Ready, M Joron, WO McMillan, and CD Jiggins (2012). Adaptive introgression across species boundaries in Heliconius butterflies. PLoS Genetics 8(6):e1002752. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002752

Jones RT, PA Salazar, RH ffrench-Constant, CD Jiggins & M Joron (2012). Evolution of a mimicry supergene from a multilocus architecture. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279:316-325. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0882

Nadeau NJ, A Whibley, RT Jones, J Davey, KK Dasmahapatra, SW Baxter, M Joron, RH ffrench-Constant, ML Blaxter, J Mallet & CD Jiggins (2012). Genomic islands in hybridizing Heliconius butterflies identified by large-scale targeted sequencing. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 367:343-353. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0198

Joron M, L Frezal, RT Jones, N Chamberlain, SF Lee, CR Haag, A Whibley, M Becuwe, SW Baxter, L Ferguson, PA Wilkinson, C Salazar, C Davidson, R Clark, MA Quail, H Beasley, R Glithero, C Lloyd, S Sims, M Jones, J Rogers, C Jiggins, and RH ffrench-Constant (2011) Chromosomal rearrangements maintain a polymorphic supergene controlling butterfly mimicry. Nature 477:203-206. doi: 10.1038/nature10341

Joron M & A Whibley (2011). Stripes, sex and sparrows: what processes underlie heteromorphic chromosome evolution? Heredity 106:531-532. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2010.106

Wu GC, M Joron & CD Jiggins (2010). Signatures of selection in loci governing major colour patterns in Heliconius butterflies and related species. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10:368. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-10-368

Baxter SW, NJ Nadeau, L Maroja, PA Wilkinson, BA Counterman, A Dawson, M Beltrán, S Pérez-Espona, N Chamberlain, L Ferguson, R Clark, C Davidson, R Glithero, J Mallet, WO McMillan, MR Kronforst, M Joron, R H. ffrench-Constant & CD Jiggins (2010). Genomic hotspots for adaptation: the population genetics of Müllerian mimicry in the Heliconius melpomene clade. PLoS Genetics 6: e1000794. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000794

Counterman BA, F Araujo-Pérez, HM Hines, SW Baxter, CM Morrison, DP Lindstrom, R Papa, L Ferguson, M Joron, RH ffrench-Constant, C Smith, D Nielsen, R Chen, CD Jiggins, RD Reed, G Halder, J Mallet, and WO McMillan (2010). Genomic hotspots for adaptation: the population genetics of Müllerian mimicry in Heliconius erato. PLoS Genetics 6: e1000796. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000796

Ferguson L, SF Lee, N Chamberlain, N Nadeau, M Joron, SW Baxter, P Wilkinson, A Papanicolaou, S Kumar, TJ Kee, R Clark, C Davidson, H Beasley, A Surridge, G Wu, H Vogel, RH ffrench-Constant & CD Jiggins (2010). Characterization of a hotspot for mimicry: Assembly of a butterfly wing transcriptome to genomic sequence at the HmYb/Sb locus. Molecular Ecology 19: 240-254. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04475.x

Elias M, M Joron, K Willmott, V Kaiser, K Silva-Brandão, C Arias, LM Gómez Piñeres, S Uribe, AVZ Brower, AVL Freitas & CD Jiggins (2009). Out of the Andes: patterns of diversification in clearwing butterflies. Molecular Ecology 18: 1716-1729.

Joron M (2008). Batesian mimicry: Can a leopard change its spots -and get them back? Current Biology 18 (11): r476-478.

Baxter SW, R Papa, N Chamberlain, SJ Humphray, M Joron, RH ffrench-Constant, WO McMillan & CD Jiggins (2008). Parallel evolution in the genetic basis of Müllerian mimicry in Heliconius butterflies. Genetics 180: 1567-1577.

Joron M, R Papa, J Mallet, et al. (2007) [Meeting Abstract]. Conserved but flexible: Genetic control of mimicry in Heliconius butterfly wing patterns. Journal of Insect Science 7: 24.

Elias M, M Joron, K Willmott, et al. (2007) [Meeting Abstract]. Phylogenetic hypothesis, pattern of speciation and evolution of wing pattern in neotropical Napeogenes butterflies (Lepidoptera : Nymphalidae). Journal of Insect Science 7: 13-14.

Joron M, R Papa, M Beltrán, N Chamberlain, J Mavárez, S Baxter, EB Bermingham, S Humphray, J Rogers, H Beasley, K, Barlow, RH ffrench-Constant, J Mallet, WO McMillan & CD Jiggins (2006). A conserved supergene locus controls wing pattern diversity in Heliconius butterflies. PLoS Biology 4(10): e303. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040303

Joron M, CD Jiggins, A Papanicolaou & WO McMillan (2006). Heliconius wing patterns: an evo-devo model for understanding phenotypic diversity. Heredity. 97: 157 - 167 (Evo-devo Special issue).

Whinnett A, M Zimmermann, KR Willmott, N Herrera, R Mallarino, F Simpson, M Joron, G Lamas & J Mallet (2005). Strikingly variable divergence times inferred across an Amazonian butterfly 'suture zone'. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 272: 2525-2533.

Joron M & Y Iwasa (2005). The evolution of a Müllerian mimic in a spatially-distributed community. Journal of Theoretical Biology 237: 87-103.

Papanicolaou A, M Joron, W O McMillan, M L Blaxter & C D Jiggins (2005). Genomic tools and cDNA derived markers for butterflies. Molecular Ecology 14: 2883-2897.

Joron M (2005). Polymorphic mimicry, microhabitat use, and sex-specific behaviour. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 18: 547-556.

Joron M & PM Brakefield (2003). Captivity masks inbreeding effects on male mating success in butterflies. Nature 424: 191-194.

Martin JL & M Joron (2003). Nest predation in forest birds: influence of predator type and predator's habitat quality. Oikos 102(3): 641-653.

Joron M, IR Wynne, G Lamas & J Mallet (2001). Variable selection and the coexistence of multiple mimetic forms of the butterfly Heliconius numata. Evolutionary Ecology 13: 721-754 [dated 1999 by publisher].

Mallet J & M Joron (1999). Evolution of diversity in warning color and mimicry: polymorphisms, shifting balance, and speciation. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 30: 201-233.

Joron M & J Mallet (1998). Diversity in mimicry: paradox or paradigm? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 13: 461-466.