Image credit: Jasminca Behrmann-Godel, University of Konstanz
Dr. Fritz Sedlazeck of the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center and Dr. Arne Nolte of the Institute for Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Oldenburg, Germany, have been awarded the 2018 Plant and Animal SMRT® Grant. This grant provides the researchers access to the PacBio Sequel System at GENEWIZ, as well as the materials needed and bioinformatics support to conduct comparative genomic sequencing on the newly discovered European cavefish.
The pale loach, which belongs to the genus Barbatula, was discovered in 2015 by diver Joachim Kreiselmaier in the Danube-Aach underground karst system in Southern Germany. Sedlazeck and Nolte will join efforts with Dr. Jasminca Behrmann-Godel of the Limnological Institute of the University of Konstanz to further understand the evolution of this cavefish.
The outcome of this study will enable us to understand the initial steps that lead to the evolution of cave animals and impact our understanding of how multiple phenotypes evolve among vertebrates.
"This grant enables us to establish the genome assembly of the European cavefish and identify genetic variants from its surface-water ancestors," said Sedlazeck. "We are fascinated by changes in the sensory system and pale pigmentation of the fish and we will compare its genomic makeup with the Mexican cavefish which is an important model organism in developmental biology. The outcome of this study will enable us to understand the initial steps that lead to the evolution of cave animals and impact our understanding of how multiple phenotypes evolve among vertebrates."