15. February 2022
New publi­ca­tion by Axel Meyer
© Hector Fellow Academy

Paper by Axel Meyer on polymor­phism published in Nature Communications

Evolu­tion­ary biolo­gist and Hector Fellow Axel Meyer and his team are conduct­ing research on color polymor­phism in Midas cichlids.
Polymor­phism is the co-occur­rence of two or more distinct genetic forms of a species. Since the discov­ery of this phenom­e­non by Edmund Brisco Ford, there has been debate about how such discon­tin­u­ous varia­tion is caused and maintained. The presence of “gold” and “dark” individ­u­als in the Midas cichlid species complex is a partic­u­larly strik­ing example of a stable color polymor­phism that has been studied for almost half a century.

While most Midas cichlids belong to the "dark morph," about 10% lose melanic pigmen­ta­tion during their devel­op­ment and transi­tion to a "golden morph." In the course of their research, Meyer and his team were able to identify a gene that is respon­si­ble for these struc­tural changes. The name of the gene, Golden­touch, was chosen in refer­ence to King Midas from Greek mythology.

The findings make an impor­tant contri­bu­tion to decipher­ing the molec­u­lar mecha­nism of morpho­log­i­cal color changes. The results thus repre­sent an impor­tant milestone in the study of stable polymorphisms.

Congrat­u­la­tions Axel Meyer!