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CNRS Researcher (CR1)



Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité
Sorbonne Universités
Equipe Evolution et Développement des Variations Phénotypiques
57 Rue Cuvier - CP50
F- 75005 PARIS, France
☏ :+ 33 (0)1 71 21 46 96
Email : llaurens[AT]

 Brief CV

- 2016 : Habilitation à Diriger les Recherches (HDR)

- Since 2015 : CNRS researcher (CR1), Leader of the team Evolution and Development of Phenotypic Variations, National Museum of Natural History, Paris (France)

- 2011-2014 : CNRS researcher (CR2), "Balancing selection acting on wing colour patterns of the mimic species Heliconius numata", National Museum of Natural History, Paris (France)

- 2010 : Post-doc, Marie Curie Fellowship, "Sheltered genetic load acting on MHC loci in the guppy Poecilia reticulata", University of Hull (UK)

- 2008-2009 : Post-doc, "Evolution of handedness in humans", University of Montpellier 2 (France)

- 2004-2007 : PhD thesis, "Evolutionary forces acting on the self-incompatibility of Arabidopsis halleri", University of Lille 1 (France)

 Team Composition

I am leading the team Evolution and Development of Phenotypic Variations, which is currently composed of :

- Violaine Llaurens, CNRS researcher
- Vincent Debat, MNHN lecturer
- Sylvain Gerber, MNHN lecturer
- Patrick Blandin, MNHN Emeritus professor
- Raphaël Cornette, MNHN assistant engineer
- Florence Prunier, CNRS assistant engineer
- Héloïse Bastide, Emergence postdoc
- Ceferino Varon Gonzalez, Postdoc ANR SWING (supervised by V Debat)
- Ombeline Sculfort, PhD student (supervised by B Nay & V Llaurens)
- Camille Le Roy, PhD Student (supervised by V Debat, F Muijeres & V Llaurens)
- Lynda Hadj Mahfoud, Master Student (supervised by O Sculfort, B Nay & V Llaurens)
- Ludovic Maisoneuve, Polytechnic student (supervised by V Llaurens)
- Samuel Charberet, Bachelor student ((supervised by C Le Roy, V Debat & V Llaurens)

 Research interests

I am an evolutionary biologist, interested in the evolution and development of phenotypic variations within populations, species and clades. I am mostly focusing on balancing selection mechanisms, promoting the persistence of adaptive polymorphism for long evolutionary periods. I aim at dissecting the effect of such selection on the underlying genetic architecture, but also at finely characterizing evolutionary mechanisms driving polymorphism in natural populations. I used combinations of theoretical and empirical approaches, including both lab and field experiments. I currently work on several research projets involving different members of the team, listed below :

Development of wing colour pattern variations

Team members involved : H Bastide, F Prunier, V Llaurens.
in collaboration with : M Joron, CNRS research director in CEFE Montpellier

In the polymorphic butterfly species Heliconius numata which display several distinct wing colour patterns within species, we aim at identifying the development of such variations, through RNAseq approaches and in situ hybridizations. In this species, a supergene composed of a handfull of genes control of most variations, and display chromosomal rearrangements. We thus focus on the role of the different genes in this region together and the inversions in the evolution of the development of mimetic colour in H. numata. We also investigate the role of the same genes in sister species that do not display a supergene architecture of mimicry such as H. hecale, to track down the evolutionary history of colour pattern diversification.

Evolution of dominance between supergene alleles

Team members involved : M Arias (former PhD student), H Bastide, V Llaurens
in collaboration with : Sylvain Billiard, lecturer at University of Lille 1

Combining experimental and theoretical approaches, we investigated the natural selection acting on dominance among mimetic alleles and its consequences on the evolution of dominance at the supergene controlling polymorphic mimicry. We hypothesized that dominance may have evolved, and will aim at investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Evolution of chemical defenses in the genus Heliconius

Team members involved : O Sculfort, L Hadj Mafhoud, V Llaurens
in collaboration with : Bastien Nay and Marianne Elias, CNRS researchers

We aimed at characteririzing quantitative and qualitative variations in chemical defenses in Heliconius species. Heliconius catterpillars feed on Passiflora leaves that contains cyanogenic glucosides. Butterflies can then sequester and/or neo-synthesized cyanogenic compounds from their diet. The extraordinary evolutionary convergence in wing colour pattern among defended species stem from the advantage from sharing the cost of learning by predators. Understanding the evolutionary history of the convergence in wing colour pattern thus require to study the evolution of chemical defenses and of their variations.

Evolution of eyespot shape and number in the genus Morpho

Team members involved : S Jarosson (former M2 student), R Cornette, S Gerber, P Blandin, V Debat, V Llaurens

Morpho butterflies display bright blue colour in thedorsal side of their wings, but cryptic brownish patterns in the ventral side, associated with variable number of eyespots. We are currently investigating eyespots variations (shape, colours, size, position), and their correlation with wing shape and venation. We estimate the effect of phylogenetic signal, but also of ecology on these variations, to identify the evolutionary forces driving both inter and intra specific variations.

Wing shapes and flight performances in the genus Morpho

Team members involved : C Le Roy, V Debat, P Blandin, R Cornette, V Llaurens
in collaboration with : R Godoy-Diana, CNRS researcher, ESPCI and F Muijeres, University of Wagenigen

Because of the recent discovery of wing shape variations being associated with different micro-habitat (canopy vs. understory) in the genus Morpho, we aim at investigating inter-specific variations in flight performances, using both aerodynamics experimental set ups in the lab and behavioural experiments in the field. By studying the link between wing shapes variations and flight performance, we may provide a better understanding of evolutionary forces driving wing shape variations in the genus Morpho.


- ANR DOMEVOL (2013-2017)
- Emergence project (2016-2020)
- Labex BcDIV  : PhD grant (2016-2019) to Ombeline Sculfort


PDF - 1.7 Mo

- Smadi C, Leman H, Llaurens V. 2018. Looking for the right mate in diploid species : how does genetic dominance affect spatial differentiation in a sexual trait ? Journal of Theoretical Biology.447 : 157-170.

PDF - 774.3 ko

- Chouteau M, Llaurens V, Piron-Prunier F, Joron M, 2017. Polymorphism at a mimicry supergene maintained by opposing frequency dependent selection pressures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114(31) : 8325–8329.

PDF - 735.4 ko

- Llaurens V, Whibley A & Joron M. 2017. Genetic architecture and balancing selection : life and death of differentiated variants. Molecular Ecology, 26 : 2430–2448.

PDF - 1.2 Mo

- Aubier T, Elias M, Llaurens V & Chazot N. 2017. Mutualistic mimicry enhances species diversification through spatial segregation and extension of the ecological niche space. Evolution, 71 : 826–844.

PDF - 1.2 Mo

- Arias M, Meichanetzoglou A, Elias M, Rosser N, de-Silva DL, Nay B & Llaurens V, 2016. Variation in cyanogenic compounds concentration within a Heliconius butterfly community : does mimicry explain everything ? BMC Evolutionary Biology,16:272.

PDF - 9.2 Mo

- Nadeau N, Pardo-Diaz C, Whibley A, Supple M, Saenko S, Wallbank R, Wu G, Maroja L, Ferguson L, Hanly J, Hines H, Salazar C, Dowling A, ffrench-Constant R, Llaurens V, Joron M, McMillan O & Jiggins C, 2016. A major gene controls mimicry and crypsis in butterflies and moths. Nature, 534:106–110.

PDF - 639.3 ko

- Arias M, Le Poul Y, Chouteau M, Boisseau R, Rosser N, Théry M & Llaurens V, 2016. Crossing fitness valleys : empirical estimation of adaptive landscape associated with polymorphic mimicry, Proceeding the Royal Society London - B, 283(1829).

PDF - 344.8 ko

- Piron-Prunier F, Chouteau M, Whibley A, Joron M & Llaurens V, 2016.Selection of valid reference genes for reverse transcription quantitative PCR analysis in Heliconius numata, Journal of Insect Science, 16(1):50 ; 1–8.

PDF - 487.1 ko

- Arias M, Mappes J, Théry M & Llaurens V, 2016. Inter-species variation in unpalatability does not explain polymorphism in a mimetic species. Evolutionary ecology, DOI 10.1007/s10682-015-9815-2.

PDF - 861.8 ko

- Llaurens V, Joron M & Billiard S, 2015. Molecular mechanisms of dominance evolution in Müllerian mimicry. Evolution, 69 (12) : 3097-3108.

PDF - 1.1 Mo

- 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, Yu Q 2015. The diversification of Heliconius butterflies : What have we learned in 150 years ? Journal of evolutionary biology, 28 (8) : 1417–1438

PDF - 1.8 Mo

- 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)

PDF - 427.7 ko

- Llaurens, V., Joron, M., Thery M., 2014. Cryptic differences in colors 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

PDF - 1.3 Mo

- Llaurens V, Billiard S.& Joron M 2013. The effect of dominance on polymorphism in Müllerian mimicry , Journal of theoretical Biology, 337 (2013) : 101–110.

PDF - 505.2 ko

- Llaurens V*, McMullan M*, van Oosterhout C, 2012. Cryptic MHC polymorphism revealed but not explained by selection on the class IIB peptide binding region. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 29 (6) : 1631-1644.

PDF - 150.8 ko

- Faurie C*, Llaurens V*, Hegay T & Raymond M, 2012. Handedness and socio-economic status in an urban population in Uzbekistan. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33 (1) : 35-41.

PDF - 198.3 ko

- Faurie C*, Llaurens V*, Alvergne A, Goldberg M, Zins M & Raymond M 2011. Left-handedness and male-male competition : Insights from fighting and hormonal data. Evolutionary psychology, 9 (3) : 354-370.

PDF - 484.7 ko

- Leducq JB*, Llaurens V*, Castric V, Hardy O & Vekemans X 2011. Effect of balancing selection on spatial genetic structure within continuous populations : theory and empirical evidence from the self-incompatibility locus in Arabidopsis halleri. Heredity, 106 : 319-329.

PDF - 686.3 ko

-  Llaurens V, Gonthier, L & Billiard, S 2009. The sheltered genetic load linked to the S-locus : new insights from theoretical and empirical approaches in sporophytic self-incompatibility. Genetics, 183 : 1105-1118.

PDF - 103.8 ko

- Llaurens V, Raymond M & Faurie C 2009. Ritual fights and male reproductive success in a human population. Journal of evolutionary Biology, 22 : 1854-1859

PDF - 338.7 ko

- Llaurens V, Billiard S, Castric V & Vekemans X, 2009. Evolution of dominance in sporophytic self-incompatibility systems : I. Genetic load and co-evolution of levels of dominance in pollen and pistil. Evolution, 63 : 2427-2437.

PDF - 441.7 ko

-  Llaurens, V., Raymond, M., Faurie, C., 2009. Why are some people left-handed ? An evolutionary perspective. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society-B, 364 : 881-894.

PDF - 206.9 ko

- Llaurens V, Leducq JB, Billiard S, Castric V, Klein EK & Vekemans X 2008. Does frequency-dependent selection with complex dominance interactions accurately predict allelic frequencies at the self-incompatibility locus in Arabidopsis halleri ?. Evolution, 62 (10) : 2545-2557.

PDF - 249.5 ko

- Llaurens V, Castric V, Austerlitz F & Vekemans X 2008. High paternal diversity in the herbaceous perennial herb Arabidopsis halleri despite functional self-incompatibility, clonal reproduction and spatially-restricted pollen dispersal. Molecular Ecology, 17 : 1577-1588.

PDF - 236.7 ko

- Blanckenhorn WU & Llaurens V 2005. Effects of temperature on cell size and number in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria. Journal of Thermal Biology, 30 : 213-219.

* Equal contributions

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