Melanie N. Brien

Postdoctoral researcher
Department of Biological & Environmental Science
University of Jyväskylä

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Museum Heliconius samples

Hi! I am postdoctoral researcher studying the genetics of colour and pattern in Lepidoptera. Currently I am focusing on the wood tiger moth as part of a collaborative project between the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and the University of Cambridge, UK. (Website work in progress!)


Colour polymorphism in the wood tiger moth, Arctia plantaginis

University of Jyväskylä, Finland and University of Cambridge, UK. Predator Prey Interactions group.
During my postdoc I will be studying the mechanisms producing the colour polymorphism in the wood tiger moth. We aim to determine the genes involved in controlling the colour pattern and investigate differences in gene regulatory networks between different morphs.

The genetic basis of structural colour in Heliconius butterflies

The University of Sheffield, UK. Nadeau Lab.
My PhD focused on iridescent structural colour in the Heliconius butterflies. In particular I looked at two distantly related mimietic species which both evolved structural colour in certain geographical races. I also looked at the condition dependence of this trait. Thesis, 2019


  • Bainbridge HE*, Brien MN*, Morochz C, Salazar P, Rastas P, Nadeau NJ (2020). Limited genetic parallels underlie convergent evolution of quantitative pattern variation in mimetic butterflies. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. *Joint first authors. Graphical summary below!
  • Brien MN, Enciso-Romero J, Parnell AJ, Salazar PA, Morochz C, Chalá D, Zinn T, Curran EV, Nadeau NJ (2018). Phenotypic variation in Heliconius erato crosses shows iridescent structural colour is sex-linked and controlled by multiple genes. Interface Focus, 9.
  • Parnell AJ, Bradford JE, Curran EV, Washington AL, Adams G, Brien MN, Burg SL, Morochz C, Fairclough JPA, Vukusic P, Martin SJ, Doak S, Nadeau NJ (2018). Wing scale ultrastructure underlying convergent and divergent iridescent colours in mimetic Heliconius butterflies. J. R. Soc. Interface, 15, 20170948.
  • Hentley WT, Vanbergen AJ, Beckerman AP, Brien MN, Hails RS, Jones H & Johnson SN (2016). Antagonistic interactions between an invasive alien and a native coccinellid species may promote coexistence, Journal of Animal Ecology, 85, 1087-1097.