Molecular basis of a novel pigment trait in cichlid fishes

Pombo dos Santos, Maria Emília. Molecular basis of a novel pigment trait in cichlid fishes. 2014, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_11035

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The genetics underlying the evolution of novel morphological structures is a fascinating topic that has attracted the attention of many evolutionary biologists. Among the East African cichlid fauna, the haplochromines represent the most species-rich group. One of their characteristics is the occurrence of egg-spots on the anal fins of males, which mimic real eggs and play a crucial role in the breeding cycle of these maternal mouthbrooding fish. These yellow to orange egg-spots serve as intra-specific sexual advertisement to attract females and to maximize breeding success. They are a novel trait that emerged only once in the evolution of the haplochromine lineage. The main goal of this doctoral thesis was to deepen our understanding of the genetics and developmental basis of the emergence and diversification of egg-spots, an evolutionary novelty in East African cichlid fishes. Further understanding of the molecular basis novelty requires the identification of the genes and mutations that underlie these major phenotypic changes. Here we report the identification of two genes that are involved in the development of the egg-spot trait Ð fhl2a and fhl2b Ð and one possible cis-regulatory mutation in fhl2b that might have played a role in the emergence of the egg-spot trait. We further described many more candidate genes via an RNAseq survey of Astatotilapia burtoni (haplochromine species) egg-spot and anal fin transcriptome. We generated hypotheses about their possible function using Gene Ontology definitions and inter-species gene expression, establishing a database that will serve as an important resource and useful resource for future research on the emergence and diversification the egg-spot trait.
Advisors:Salzburger, Walter
Committee Members:Beldade, Patrícia
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Evolutionary Biology (Salzburger)
UniBasel Contributors:Salzburger, Walter
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:11035
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:120 S.
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edoc DOI:
Last Modified:22 Jan 2018 15:52
Deposited On:18 Nov 2014 14:56

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