Tuesday, February 21, 2006


[evomech] Genetic analysis of cavefish reveals molecular convergence in the evolution of albinism

Genetic analysis of cavefish reveals molecular convergence in the evolution of albinism
[Jeffery et al., Nature Genetics, Dec '05]


The genetic basis of vertebrate morphological evolution has traditionally been very difficult to examine in naturally occurring populations. Here we describe the generation of a genome-wide linkage map to allow quantitative trait analysis of evolutionarily derived morphologies in the Mexican cave tetra, a species that has, in a series of independent caves, repeatedly evolved specialized characteristics adapted to a unique and well-studied ecological environment. We focused on the trait of albinism and discovered that it is linked to Oca2, a known pigmentation gene, in two cave populations. We found different deletions in Oca2 in each population and, using a cell-based assay, showed that both cause loss of function of the corresponding protein, OCA2. Thus, the two cave populations evolved albinism independently, through similar mutational events.

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(NB I thought I had already posted this but it didn't show up in a search of the group's archives)

John Latter
Model of an Internal Evolutionary Mechanism:

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