Genomic consequences of ecological speciation in Astyanax cavefish

Richard Borowsky, Dana Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cave environment is consistently radically different than the surface environment because it lacks light, and animals adapting to cave life are subject to strong selective forces much different than those experienced by their ancestors who evolved in the presence of light. As such, their divergence from surface ancestors and eventual speciation is likely to be driven by the shift in ecology. We report here that hybrids between cave and surface Astyanax mexicanus fishes produce offspring with allelic frequencies that differ significantly from Mendelian expectations both for transmission ratios and for independent assortment of unlinked markers. Comparison of allelic content of DNA from fin clips and sperm pools show that the transmission ratio distortion likely occurs during spermatogenesis. Departures from expectations of independent assortment are essentially epistatic phenomena generating linkage disequilibrium. A novel analysis of the epistatic interactions reveals an apparent network of interactions among genes known or suspected to be involved in cave adaptation, implying that the epistasis arose as a "by product" of the divergence due to cave adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere79903
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 19 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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