© Hector Fellow Academy
21. December 2020
New publi­ca­tion by Axel Meyer

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.