Researchers have uncovered key genetic mechanisms underlying one of the most impressive feats of animal linkurl:migration; on Earth: the autumnal voyage of monarch butterflies from eastern North America to distant Mexican fir forests. In this week's issue of __PLoS Biology__, neurobiologist linkurl:Steven Reppert; and colleagues from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Czech Academy of Sciences linkurl:identify; the function of regulatory genes essential to the butterflies' ability to navigate thousands of kilometers to their Mexican wintering sites. The genes code for molecular components of the insects' circadian clock, which allows them plot accurate migratory courses by synchronizing alterations in their flight paths with passing time as the sun streaks across the sky. "What we wanted to do was to understand, at a fundamental level, how this clock works," Reppert told __The Scientist__. The researchers found that monarchs have both the __Drosophila__ and the vertebrate versions of so-called cryptochrome...

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