Genomic basis of mate choice in the polychromatic Midas cichlid fish

Abstract Most species of the Midas cichlid species complex of Nicaragua come in two conspicuous colors.  They are either with black and white stripes – this is the common (N) morph found in 90-95% of the individuals, but about 5-10% of the fish loose their black pigments before sexual maturity and become gold.  There is strong assortative mating based on coloration: almost all the pairs are either G-G or N-N.  We also know already that color is a mendellian trait and that G is dominant over N.

We would like to investigate the genetics of mate choice in this species.  This Ph.D. project would involve observation in the field in Nicaragua, mate choice experiments in the laboratory, QTL mapping of the assortative mating behavior and genomic work trying to identify the gene(s) responsible for this behavior.  The genome of the Midas cichlid is almost complete, and also five genomes of African cichlid fish have been sequenced as well, so it will be possible to utilize several reference genomes that will facilitate this work. 

This project deals with behavioral genomics a very exciting new field that is being jump-started through a whole range of new genomic and bioinformatic techniques.

Keywords Nicaragua, QTL mapping, assortative mating, behavioral genomics, bioinformatic techniques

Main advisor Axel Meyer, University of Konstanz

Henning*, F., Jones*, J.C., Franchini, P. and A. Meyer. 2013. Transcriptomics of morphological color change in polychromatic Midas cichlids. BMC Genomics 14:171.

Interested in this PhD project? Apply here!

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