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Genetic & Develo­p­men­tal Basis of Color in Cichlid Fish

Marga­ret Sefton – Hector Fellow Axel Meyer

Diese Arbeit konzen­trierte sich auf die geneti­schen Grund­la­gen der Anpas­sung und Diver­si­fi­zie­rung von Buntbar­schen durch die Unter­su­chung von Genen, die an der Entwick­lung von Farbmus­tern betei­ligt sind. Die Kombi­na­tion von Modell­sys­te­men aus dem Bereich Ökolo­gie und Evolu­ti­ons­bio­lo­gie mit den abgewan­del­ten Techni­ken eines Genmo­dell­or­ga­nis­mus erlaubte die Überprü­fung von Hypothe­sen über die Betei­li­gung bestimm­ter Gene an der Evolu­tion neuer Arten.

Cichlid fish* are well-known for their beautiful colors and multi­tude of body shapes. They are found in the East African Rift lakes where they have formed so-called adaptive radia­ti­ons, in which hundreds of new species origi­na­ted extre­mely quickly – someti­mes within less than 100,000 years. This thesis, under the super­vi­sion of Hector Fellow Axel Meyer, focuses on the genetic basis of adapt­a­tion and diver­si­fi­ca­tion in cichlids by exami­ning genes invol­ved in color pattern development.

In the first project the regula­tory basis of colora­tion in several species of cichlids is inves­ti­ga­ted. Using next-genera­tion sequen­cing techno­lo­gies, it will be searched for genes that might cause the diffe­ren­ces between various cichlid species and charac­te­ristics that differ between males and females. One of the main research questi­ons concerns the relative roles of struc­tu­ral changes (the emergence of new genes) and regula­tory changes (existing genes used in a new develo­p­men­tal context) during the process of divergence.

The second project, develo­ping an experi­men­tal frame­work for the in vivo testing of gene function in the Midas cichlid, will use innova­tive genome enginee­ring approaches.

By combi­ning a model system from the fields of ecology and evolu­tio­nary biology with techni­ques adapted from genetic model organisms, such as the zebra­fish, novel hypothe­ses about the invol­vement of speci­fic genes in the evolu­tion of new species will be tested – something even Darwin could not have dreamed of.

*) In German Buntbarsche

Mechanical Metamaterial

Cichlid fish

Marga­ret Sefton

Univer­si­tät Konstanz

Betreut durch

Prof. Dr.

Axel Meyer


Hector Fellow seit 2011Disziplinen Axel Meyer