Adriana D. Briscoe

Picture of Adriana D. Briscoe
Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
School of Biological Sciences
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1998, Biology
M.A., Stanford University, 1993, Philosophy
B.S., Stanford University, 1993, Biological Sciences
B.A., Stanford University, 1992, Philosophy
Phone: (949) 824-1118
Fax: (949) 824-2181
University of California, Irvine
5238 McGaugh Hall
Mail Code: 2525
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
sensory physiology, color vision, coloration, behavior, molecular evolution, genomics
Academic Distinctions
Fellow, UCI Newkirk Center for Science and Society (2023)
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (elected in 2022)
Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (2021)
IDEA Award, American Society of Naturalists/Society for the Study of Evolution/Society of Systematic Biologists (2021)
Annual Drosophila Research Conference, Plenary Lecture (2021)
Scientific Advisory Board, Max Planck Institute (2020)
University Faculty Award, American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (2020)
Darwin Day, Keynote Speaker, Virginia Commonwealth University (2020)
Distinguished Evolutionary Mechanisms Lecture, University of Kansas (2019)
Distinguished Scientist, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (2018)
Fellow, California Academy of Sciences (elected in 2018)
Fellow, Royal Entomological Society (elected in 2018)
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected in 2017)
Plenary Speaker, Entomological Society of America (2017)
Editorial Board Member, Physiological and Biochemical Zoology (2015-present )
Overseas Visiting Scholar, St. John's College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K. (2012)
BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, Faculty Affiliate (2012-present)
Council Member, American Genetic Association (2011-2014)
Holland Lecture, Indiana University (2011)
Advisory Board Member, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCENT)(2010-2012 )
Associate Editor, Molecular Biology and Evolution (2005-2012)
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Diversity Award/Burroughs Wellcome Fund Research Award (2008)
Sigma Xi (elected in 2004)
Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (2000-2001)
Howard Hughes Medical Institute PreDoctoral Fellowship (1993-1998)
2001-2002 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

1999-2001 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson
Research Abstract
My lab studies gene products underlying physiological and behavioral traits following the processes of gene duplication and functional diversification. We use butterflies as model systems for examining how natural selection shapes the primary amino acid sequence of proteins and leads to changes in physiology and behavior, specifically in the interaction between color vision and wing coloration. We study how changes in the spatial expression of photoreceptors and colored filters in the eye have direct consequences for butterflies in their behavioral interactions with predators, potential mates and the environment. In the most recent work from the lab, we have shown that Heliconius butterflies have evolved a second receptor for ultraviolet light around the same time they began displaying UV-yellow colors on their wings. We have also recently discovered that the butterfly proboscis is not simply a passive straw for collecting food, it also produces its own suite of digestive enzymes.

I have mentored fourteen graduate students and postdocs. These include individuals who are now on the faculty at UC Santa Cruz (Aide Macias-Muñoz), University of Minnesota (Kyle McCulloch), Cal State Long Beach (Susan Finkbeiner), UC Santa Cruz (Marilou Sison-Mangus), Brigham Young University (Seth Bybee), the University of Wuerzberg, Germany (Johannes Spaethe), and Queensland University of Technology, Australia (Francesca Frentiu). Former and current students have also been recipients of numerous awards and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, National Geographic and other funding agencies.

Briscoe ADM. 2023. Familia, comunidad y maestros: How I became a Latina science professor. The American Naturalist, 201 (3): doi: 10.1086/722607

McCulloch KJ, Macias-Muñoz A, Briscoe AD. 2022. Insect opsins and evo-devo — What have we learned in 25 years? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 377: 20210288, doi: 10.1098/rstb.2021.0288

McCulloch KJ, Macias-Muñoz A, Mortazavi A, Briscoe AD. 2022. Multiple mechanisms of spectral tuning in Heliconius butterflies. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 39:msac067, doi: 10.1093/molbev/msac067

Briscoe AD. 2022. Latino STEM teachers, DACA, and the future of teaching. In: Remapping Race in a Global Context, edited by Ludovica Lorusso and Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Routledge. pp. 119-129. doi: 10.4324/9781315208893-9

Krishna A, Nie X, Briscoe AD, Lee J. 2021. Air temperature drives the evolution of mid-infrared optical properties of butterfly wings. Scientific Reports, 11: 24143, doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-02810-1

Finkbeiner SD, Briscoe AD. 2021. True UV color vision in a female butterfly with two UV opsins. Journal of Experimental Biology, 224: jeb.242802, doi: 10.1242/jeb.242802

Briscoe ADM. 2021. Genesis of a Latina science professor. In: Gender, Race, and Class in the Lives of Today’s Teachers: Educators at Intersections, edited by Lata Murti and Glenda M. Flores. Springer, pp. 41-59. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-73551-7

Briscoe AD. (2021, March 30). Evolutionary case study: the genomics of speciation in Heliconius butterflies [Video file]. In The Biomedical & Life Sciences Collection, Henry Stewart Talks. Retrieved April 6, 2021, from

Briscoe A. 2020. Q&A Adriana Briscoe. Current Biology 30: R1343-R1345,

Drewniak ME, Briscoe AD, Cocucci AA, Beccacece HM, Zapata AI, Moré M. 2020. From the butterfly’s point of view: learned color association determines differential pollination of two co-occurring mock verbains by Agraulis vanillae (Nymphalidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, blaa066,

Atilano SR, Kenney MC, Briscoe AD, Jameson KA. 2020. Two-step method for identifying photopigment opsin and rhodopsin gene sequences underlying human color vision phenotypes. Molecular Vision, 26:158-172,

Krishna A, Nie X, Warren AD, Llorente-Bousquets JE, Briscoe AD, Lee J. 2020. Infrared optical and thermal properties of microstructures in butterfly wings. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A.117:1566-1572

Mullen SP, Vankuren NW, Zhang W, Nallu S, Kristiansen EB, Wuyun Q, Liu K, Hill RI, Briscoe AD, Kronforst MR. 2020. Disentangling population history and character evolution among hybridizing lineages. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 37:1295-1305.

Briscoe AD. 2019. Latino STEM Teachers, DACA, and the Future of Teaching. Latino Rebels Wednesday, November 20.

Briscoe A. 2019. Flying colors: Researcher reveals hidden world through the eyes of butterflies. The Conversation Tuesday, July 2.

Catalán A, Briscoe AD, Höhna S. 2019. Drift and directional selection are the evolutionary forces driving gene expression divergence in eye and brain tissue of Heliconius butterflies. Genetics 213:581-594, doi: 10.1534/genetics.119.302493

Macias-Muñoz A, Rangel Olguin A, Briscoe AD. 2019. Evolution of phototransduction genes in Lepidoptera. Genome Biology and Evolution, 11:2107-2124. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evz150

Catalán A, Macias-Muñoz A, Briscoe AD. 2018. Evolution of sex-biased gene expression and dosage compensation in the eye and brain of Heliconius butterflies. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 35: 2120–2134. doi:10.1093/molbev/msy111

Palmer DH, Tan YQ, Finkbeiner SD, Briscoe AD, Monteiro A, Kronforst MR. 2018. Experimental field tests of Batesian mimicry in the swallowtail butterfly Papilio polytes. Ecology and Evolution, 8:7657-7666. doi: 10.1002/ece3.4207

Finkbeiner SD, Salazar-Carrion PA, Nogales S, Rush CE, Briscoe AD, Hill RI, Kronforst MR, Willmott KR, Mullen SP. 2018. Frequency-dependence shapes the adaptive landscape of imperfect Batesian mimicry. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285: 20172786. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2786

Smith G, Macias-Muñoz A, Kelly J, Butts C, Martin R, Briscoe AD. 2018. Evolutionary and structural analyses uncover a role for solvent interactions in the diversification of cocoonases in butterflies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 285: 20172037. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2037

Macias-Muñoz A, McCulloch KJ, Briscoe AD. 2017. Copy number variation and expression analysis reveals a non-orthologous pinta gene family member involved in butterfly vision. Genome Biology and Evolution, 9:3398–3412. doi:10.1093/gbe/evx230

Wilts BD, Vey AJM, Briscoe AD, Stavenga DG. 2017. Longwing (Heliconius) butterflies combine a restricted set of pigmentary and structural coloration mechanisms. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 17:226. doi:10.1186/s12862-017-1073-1

McCulloch KJ, Yuan F, Zhen Y, Aardema ML, Smith G, Llorente-Bousquets J, Andolfatto P, Briscoe AD. 2017. Sexual dimorphism and retinal mosaic diversification following the evolution of a violet receptor in butterflies. Molecular Biology and Evolution 34:2271-2284. DOI:10.1093/molbev/msx163

Finkbeiner SD, Briscoe AD, Mullen SP. 2017. Complex dynamics underlie the convergent evolution of imperfect Batesian mimicry. Evolution 71: 949-959, doi:10.1111/evo.13165

Finkbeiner SD, Fishman DA, Osorio D, Briscoe AD. 2017. Ultraviolet and yellow reflectance but not fluorescence is important for visual discrimination of conspecifics by Heliconius erato. Journal of Experimental Biology 220: 1267-1276, doi: 10.1242/jeb.153593

Smith G, Macias-Muñoz A, Briscoe AD. 2016. Gene duplication and gene expression changes play a role in the evolution of candidate pollen-feeding genes in Heliconius butterflies. Genome Biology and Evolution 8:2581-2596 doi: 10.1093/gbe/evw180

Kanost MR and 113 co-authors. 2016. Multifaceted biological insights from a draft genome sequence of the tobacco hornworm moth, Manduca sexta. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 76: 118-147 doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2016.07.005

McCulloch KJ, Osorio DC, Briscoe AD. 2016. Sexual dimorphism in the compound eye of Heliconius erato: a nymphalid with at least five classes of photoreceptor. Journal of Experimental Biology 219: 2377-2387 doi: 10.1242/jeb.136523

van Schooten B, Jiggins CD, Briscoe AD, Papa R. 2016. Genome-wide analysis of ionotropic receptors provides insight into their evolution in Heliconius butterflies. BMC Genomics 17:254, doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2572-y

McCulloch KJ, Osorio DC, Briscoe AD. 2016. Determination of photoreceptor cell spectral sensitivity in an insect model from in vivo intracellular recordings. Journal of Visualized Experiments (108) e53829, doi:10.3791/53829

Macias-Muñoz A, Smith G, Monteiro A, Briscoe AD. 2016. Transcriptome-wide differential gene expression in Bicyclus anynana butterflies: Female vision-related genes are more plastic. Molecular Biology and Evolution 33(1):79–92 doi: 10.1093/molbev/msv197

Rolán-Alvarez E, Carvajal-Rodríguez A, de Coo A, Cortés B, Estévez D, Ferreira M, González R, Briscoe AD. 2015. The scale-of-choice effect and how estimates of assortative mating in the wild can be biased due to heterogeneous samples. Evolution 69(7):1845-57 DOI: 10.1111/evo.12691

Ebel ER, DaCosta J, Sorenson M, Hill RI, Briscoe AD, Willmott KR, Mullen SP. 2015. Rapid diversification associated with ecological specialization in Neotropical Adelpha butterflies. Molecular Ecology DOI: 10.1111/mec.13168

Smith G, Briscoe AD. 2015. Molecular evolution and expression of the CRAL-TRIO protein family in insects. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Frentiu FD, Yuan F, Savage WK, Bernard GD, Mullen SP, Briscoe AD. 2015. Opsin clines in butterflies suggest novel roles for insect photopigments. Molecular Biology and Evolution 32:368-79. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu304

Finkbeiner S, Briscoe AD, Reed RD. 2014. Warning signals are seductive: Relative contributions of color and pattern to predator avoidance and mate attraction in Heliconius butterflies. Evolution doi: 10.1111/evo.12524

Smith G, Macias-Muñoz A, Briscoe AD. 2014. Complete genome sequence of a novel Iflavirus from mRNA sequencing of the butterfly Heliconius erato. Genome Announcements 2(3). pii: e00398-14. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.00398-14

Smith G, Chen YR, Blissard GW, Briscoe AD. 2014. Complete dosage compensation and sex-biased gene expression in the moth Manduca sexta. Genome Biology and Evolution DOI:10.1093/gbe/evu035

Martin A, McCulloch KJ, Patel NH, Briscoe AD, Gilbert LE, Reed RD. 2014. Multiple recent co-options of Optix associated with novel traits in adaptive wing radiations. EvoDevo 5:7 DOI: 10.1186/2041-9139-5-7

Briscoe AD, Macias-Muñoz A, Kozak K, Yuan F, Walters JR, Jamie GA, Martin SH, Dasmahapatra KD, Ferguson LG, Mallet J, Jacquin-Joly E, Jiggins CD. 2013. Female behaviour drives expression and evolution of gustatory receptors in butterflies. PLoS Genetics 9:e1003620 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003620

Leboulle R, Niggebrügge C, Rößler R, Briscoe AD, Menzel R, Hempel de Ibarra N. 2013. Characterisation of the RNA interference response against the long-wavelength receptor of the honeybee, Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,

Everett A, Xiaoling T, Briscoe AD, Monteiro A. 2012. Phenotypic plasticity in opsin expression in a butterfly compound eye complements sex role reversal. BMC Evolutionary Biology 12:232. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-12-232

The Heliconius Genome Consortium. Dasmahapatra KK*, Walters J*, Briscoe AD, and 77 co-authors 2012. Butterfly genome reveals promiscuous exchange of mimicry adaptations among species. Nature *equal contributors DOI:10.1038/nature11041

Finkbeiner SD, Briscoe AD, Reed RD. 2012. The benefit of being a social butterfly: communal roosting deters predation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.0203

Bybee SM, Yuan F, Ramstetter MD, Llorente-Bousquets J, Reed RD, Osorio D, Briscoe AD. 2012. UV photoreceptors and UV-yellow wing pigments in Heliconius butterflies allow a color signal to serve both mimicry and intraspecific communication. The American Naturalist 179:38-51

Blackiston D, Briscoe AD, Weiss MR. 2011. Color vision and learning in the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus(Nymphalidae). Journal of Experimental Biology 214:509-520.

Yuan F, Bernard GD, Le J Briscoe AD. 2010. Contrasting modes of evolution of the visual pigments in Heliconius butterflies. Molecular Biology and Evolution 27:2392-2405.

Briscoe AD, Bybee SM, Bernard GD, Yuan F, Sison-Mangus MP, Reed RD, Warren AD, Llorente-Bousquets J, Chiao C-C. 2010. Positive selection of a duplicated UV-sensitive visual pigment coincides with wing pigment evolution in Heliconius butterflies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 107:3628-33

Briscoe AD, Bybee SM, Bernard GD, Yuan F, Sison-Mangus MP, Reed RD, Warren AD, Llorente-Bousquets J, Chiao C-C. 2010. Reply to Nozawa et al.: Complementary statistical methods support positive selection of a duplicated UV opsin gene in Heliconius. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 107:E97-E97.

Sison-Mangus MP, Briscoe AD. 2009. Molecular and physiological innovations of butterfly eyes. In: Molecular Biology and Genetics of the Lepidoptera. Edited by Marian R. Goldsmith and Franti?ek Marec. CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL. pp. 121-135

Pohl N, Sison-Mangus MP, Yee EN, Liswi SW, Briscoe AD. 2009. Impact of duplicate gene copies on phylogenetic analysis and divergence time estimates in butterflies. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 9:99

Frentiu FD, Briscoe AD. 2008. A butterfly’s eye view of birds. BioEssays 30: 1151-1162.

Briscoe AD. 2008. Reconstructing the ancestral butterfly eye: Focus on the opsins. Journal of Experimental Biology 211: 1805-1813.

Sison-Mangus MP, Briscoe AD, Zaccardi G, Knüttel H, Kelber A. 2008. The lycaenid butterfly Polyommatus icarus uses a duplicated blue opsin to see green. Journal of Experimental Biology, 211: 361-369.

Frentiu FD, Bernard GD, Sison-Mangus MP, Brower AVZ, Briscoe AD. 2007. Gene duplication is an evolutionary mechanism for expanding spectral diversity in the long wavelength photopigments of butterflies. Molecular Biology and Evolution 24:2016-2028.

Frentiu FD, Bernard GD, Cuevas CI, Sison-Mangus MP, Prudic KL, Briscoe AD. 2007. Adaptive evolution of color vision as seen through the eyes of butterflies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 104 Suppl 1:8634-8640.

Yuan Q, Metterville D, Briscoe AD, Reppert SM. 2007. Insect cryptochromes: gene duplication and loss define diverse ways to construct insect circadian clocks. Molecular Biology and Evolution 24:948-55.

Sison-Mangus MP, Bernard GD, Lampel J, Briscoe AD. 2006. Beauty in the eye of the beholder: the two blue opsins of lycaenid butterflies and the opsin gene-driven evolution of sexually dimorphic eyes. Journal of Experimental Biology 209:3079-90.

Zaccardi G, Kelber A, Sison-Mangus MP, Briscoe AD. 2006. Color discrimination in the red range with only one long-wavelength sensitive opsin. Journal of Experimental Biology 209:1944-55.

Zhu H, Yuan Q, Briscoe AD, Froy O, Casselman A, Reppert SM. 2005. The two CRYs of the butterfly. Current Biology 15:R953-4.

Lampel J, Briscoe AD, Wasserthal LT. 2005. Expression of UV-, Blue-, Long Wavelength-Sensitive Opsins and Melatonin in Extraretinal Photoreceptors of the Optic Lobes of Hawkmoths. Cell and Tissue Research, 321:443-458.

Spaethe J, Briscoe AD. 2005. Molecular Characterization and Expression of the UV Opsin in Bumblebees: Three Ommatidial Subtypes in the Retina and a New Photoreceptor Organ in the Lamina. Journal of Experimental Biology, 208: 2347-2361.

Sauman I*, Briscoe AD*, Zhu H, Shi DD, Froy O, Stalleicken J, Yuan Q, Casselman A and Reppert SM. 2005. Connecting the Navigational Clock to Sun Compass Input in Monarch Butterfly Brain. Neuron, 46: 457-467.

Briscoe AD, Bernard GD. 2005. Eyeshine and Spectral Tuning of Long Wavelength-Sensitive Rhodopsins: No Evidence for Red-Sensitive Photoreceptors Among Five Nymphaline Butterfly Species. Journal of Experimental Biology, 208: 687-696.

Briscoe AD, White RH. 2005. Adult Stemmata of the Butterfly Vanessa cardui Express UV and Green Opsin mRNAs. Cell and Tissue Research, 319:175-9.

Spaethe J, Briscoe AD. 2004. Early Duplication and Functional Diversification of the Opsin Gene Family in Insects. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 21: 1583-1594.

Briscoe AD, Gaur C, Kumar S. 2004. The Spectrum of Human Rhodopsin Disease Mutations Through the Lens of Interspecific Variation. Gene, 332: 107-118.

Briscoe AD, Bernard GD, Szeto AS, Nagy LM, White RH. 2003. Not All Butterfly Eyes are Created Equal: Rhodopsin Absorption Spectra, Molecular Identification and Localization of UV-, Blue- and Green-sensitive Opsins in the Retina of Vanessa cardui. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 458:334-349

Briscoe AD. 2003. Molecular and Physiological Diversity of Visual Mechanisms in Papilio Butterflies. In Boggs CL, Watt WB and Ehrlich PR, (Eds.) Butterflies: Ecology and Evolution Taking Flight. University of Chicago Press. pp. 27-41

Briscoe AD. 2002. Homology Modeling Suggests a Functional Role for Parallel Amino Acid Substitutions Between Bee and Butterfly Red- and Green-Sensitive Opsins. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 19 (6): 983-986.

Briscoe AD. 2001. Functional Diversification of Lepidopteran Opsins Following Gene Duplication. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 18(12): 2270-2279

Briscoe AD and Chittka L. 2001. The Evolution of Color Vision in Insects. Annual Review of Entomology, 46: 571-510

Hsu R, Briscoe AD, Chang BSW, Pierce NE. 2001. Molecular Evolution of a Long Wavelength-Sensitive Opsin in Mimetic Heliconius Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 72: 435-449.

Chittka L and Briscoe A. 2001. Why Sensory Ecology Needs to Become More Evolutionary-Insect Color Vision as a Case in Point. In Barth FG, Schmid A (Eds.) Ecology of Sensing. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp.19-37.

Briscoe AD. 2000. Six Opsins from the Butterfly Papilio glaucus: Molecular Phylogenetic Evidence for Paralogous Origins of Red-sensitive Visual Pigments in Insects. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 51: 110-121

Pichaud F, Briscoe A, and Desplan C. 1999. Evolution of Color Vision. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 9: 622-627

Briscoe AD. 1998. Molecular Diversity of Visual Pigments in the Butterfly Papilio glaucus. Naturwissenschaften, 85 (1): 33-35

NSF IOS-1656260 <p> Total awarded as principal investigator: >$4.1M in grants and fellowships.
Professional Societies
Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science
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