Cavefish Study Supports Disputed Selection Mechanism

Liz is a staff writer for Science.

Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has moved into caves a half dozen times, lost its eyes and its skin color when it moved underground. A research team has found that a molecule called heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) masks variation in genes for eye size and that the low salt content of the subterranean water diverts HPS90 from this purpose. The resulting genetic variation provides a rich template upon which natural selection can act. The work presents the first example of an adaptive function of HSP90 as an evolutionary capacitor in a natural setting.

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Posted in Biology, Environment, Evolution