A study by Axel Meyer has been published in the journal Current Biology
The study "The Developmental and Genetic Architecture of the Sexually Selected Male Ornament of Swordtails", published by Axel Meyer together with other scientists from Würzburg and the USA, investigates the genetic basis of a particular evolutionary model: males in particular usually possess eye-catching features that are not helpful for their survival or are even harmful. Examples of this are the protruding antlers of some deer or the swordtail fish’s brightly coloured extension of the lower edge of the tail fin.
The results of the study indicate that a neuronal gene called kcnh8 is primarily responsible for the development of the extended tail fin of the swordtail fish. "This gene codes for a potassium channel — a group of channels that play an important role in particular in the transmission and processing of stimuli in the nervous system," says Manfred Schartl, first author of the study and senior professor at the Department of Developmental Biochemistry at the University of Würzburg. In the course of evolution (about three to five million years ago), this gene then took on a novel function.
The findings of the study are necessary to be able to test hypotheses about the role of sexual selection at the molecular genetic level.