Cichlid genomics and phenotypic diversity in a comparative context

Integrative and Comparative Biology
C Darrin Hulsey


Cichlid fishes provide an excellent natural system for integrating studies of genomics and adaptive radiation. Cichlids are unique in comprising a substantial fraction of all vertebrate species, possessing unique jaw structures, displaying an exceptional range of breeding systems, and exhibiting rampant phenotypic convergence. The rate of divergence in cichlid jaws, teeth, color patterns, visual systems, reproductive biology, and mating behaviors is unparalleled among vertebrates. I discuss ways rapid divergence in cichlids and other adaptive radiations make understanding the genomic basis of adaptive divergence more tractable. Then, I briefly overview some major findings and insights into vertebrate adaptation that have been gained through cichlid genetic studies. Finally, I discuss the extensive evolutionary replication provided by cichlid adaptive radiations and their potential for studies of genotype-to-phenotype mapping.


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