Catalysis Meeting

Developing new model systems for evolutionary genomics using poeciliid fishes

PI(s): Felix Breden
Detlef Weigel
Kimberly Hughes (University of Illinois)
Start Date: 1-Mar-2006
End Date: 1-Aug-2007
Keywords: genomics, gene structure and function, natural populations

Since 1978, over 6000 research publications have appeared on the biology of the livebearing fishes (Family Poeciliidae), characterizing, phylogenetic relationships, ecology, behavior, life histories, morphology, environmental toxicology, and developing their potential as a model system for cancer biology. Because so much is known about these fish in their natural environments, and because they provide such convenient experimental systems, they are poised to become a premier system for evolutionary and functional genomics. Several striking phenomena within the family indicate it can become a model system for investigating sex-chromosome evolution, maintenance of genetic variation, gene regulation, and the genetic bases of life history, behavioral, and morphological evolution. Surprisingly though, very little is known about poeciliid genomes, and few molecular tools are available. We therefore propose to bring together poeciliid biologists, molecular biologists, geneticists and genomicists to devise a concrete plan for development of poeciliid genomics and molecular biology. The meeting will introduce the genomics community to the extraordinary resource that poeciliid fishes represent, and it will introduce evolutionary biologists and ecologists to the advances that can be made by integrating genomics into their studies. This meeting will lead to new collaborations linking molecular biologists and genomicists to biologists who study poeciliid evolution, ecology, behavior, and physiology. We anticipate that these linkages will produce new initiatives such as collaborative NIH and NSF grant proposals, collaborative international proposals, and white papers for the development of genomic resources.