Tuesday, 6 October 2015

New paper: how being gold colours the lives of fish

Can colour affect ecology and evolution, even within species? A recent publication of Kathryn Elmer with colleagues in University of Konstanz and the International Max Planck Research School found significant consequences of a colour dimorphism across ten populations of neotropical cichlid fishes. Named for King Midas, these Midas cichlid fishes are found in only two colour forms — all fishes start their life dark but in many species 5-20% of individuals lose their melanophores before adulthood and then become completely 'gold'. We found sympatric black- or gold-coloured individuals differed consistently in their ecology and morphology. Gold fishes were more typically ’snail-eaters’ and inhabit a lower trophic level, and this has some genetic basis.

H Kusche, KR Elmer & A Meyer, "Sympatric ecological divergence associated with a colour polymorphism” is published in the open access journal BMC Biology. doi:10.1186/s12915-015-0192-7

This was led by PhD student Henrik Kusche (now at Univ. Laval with L. Bernatchez) - see a great video about his IMPRS research here . Well done Henrik! 

Monday, 5 October 2015

PhD Position available in ecological genomics

A new PhD position is available in our group starting October 2016, which would be awarded through the competitive MVLS-Doctoral Training Programme. Please see our "Opportunities" page. 

Project: Comparative ecological genomics of environmental heterogeneity

PhD Project Summary:
Intrinsic factors such as genetics and extrinsic factors such as environment both influence a population’s contemporary patterns of diversity and adaptive potential. Quantifying the relative influence of those various factors is a major effort in biology,; it is fundamental to the mechanisms behind, the speed of, and the potential for evolution. Such patterns and processes have major implications for a range of issues in biomedical and biodiversity sciences.

This project will use advanced ecological and evolutionary genomics approaches in a rigorous comparative framework to assess the historical and contemporary patterns of diversity in Britain’s salmonid fishes. Based on new field collections, cutting edge high throughput genotyping approaches using next-generation sequencing will be used to infer the extent and organisation of genomic variability. The relative roles of environmental heterogeneity, ecological and morphological diversity, and genome-wide genetic diversity will be compared in a multispecies synthesis. The outcome will be a predictive framework for environmental heterogeneity in genomic and morphological evolutionary processes.

Salmonid fishes are of high economic, conservation, and natural history importance for Britain, but to date no relationship between environmental, genetic, and eco-morphological variability has been identified. Such a link is of key importance to preservation of biodiversity, its habitats, and the future of fisheries food security. This project is additionally supported by a Research Incentive Grant from the Carnegie Trust. Links with Scottish Natural Heritage or other charity/government bodies may also be possible.

Dr Kathryn Elmer, Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow 
Prof Colin Adams, Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow