EU-COST Refundierung - EU COST refund - [COST-Aktion: Next Generation Sequencing Data Analysis Network - Subproject: Comparative genome analysis of two eco-morphologically divergent Lake Tanganyika cichlid fish (FWF P22737)]

Project: Research project

Project Details


EU COST Action BM1006

During the last two decades cichlid fishes have been established as evolutionary model system.
Genomic approaches have undergone massive innovation concerning speed and efficiency of
deciphering whole genomes and become increasingly important in evolutionary biology. My research
group has been studying the adaptive radiation of cichlid fishes for more than 15 years, attempting to
understand the pathways of speciation and adaptation to novel ecological niches. The cichlid fishes of
Lake Tanganyika represent the oldest and eco-morphologically most advanced adaptive radiation and
several lineages radiated in parallel. We chose the tribe Tropheini to study adaptive evolution, as they
are much more diverse in terms of ecology, morphology and behavior than any Lake Malawi and
Victoria cichlid, despite being part of a monophyletic and closely related assemblage. To take our
approach further in evo-devo context, we propose to decipher the genomes of two highly divergent
members of the Tropheini, the epilithic algae feeder Tropheus moorii, and the unicellular algae comber
Petrochromis trewavasae. We intend to use 454 sequencing technology in combination with shotgun
approaches to successfully score the two genomes in reasonably complete coverage. The project is
planned as cooperation between three research groups from three Universities, The Karl-Franzens
University of Graz, The Medical University of Graz, and the Graz University of Technology, whereby
each group contributes crucial expertise and resources. The team-members of the Department of
Zoology provide the study system and the research questions and hypotheses, the partners of the
Center of Medical Research of the Medical University of Graz contribute their powerful genome
sequencing unit, the members of the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics provide their expertise in
genome assembly and annotation and computing infrastructure, which can cope with the demands of
sequencing large genomes. This project should not be understood as an attempt to undermine ongoing
efforts in cichlid genomics, but as a valuable complement in the common goal to decipher a suite of
wisely chosen cichlid genomes as "natural mutants", to understand the common pattern of cichlid
adaptive evolution and its connection to speciation processes at various stages of adaptive radiation. By
comparing particular structural and regulatory genes in addition to the genome sequencing effort we
hope to find correlates to divergent eco-morphologies, as recently demonstrated e.g. for Lake Malawi
rock cichlids. The advantage and complementary potential of the Lake Tanganyika system would be its
significantly older evolutionary age and the fact of more complete genomic separation, mirrored in the
completed lineage sorting among species in the mtDNA genome.
Effective start/end date1/01/1331/12/15


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