We study ecology, evolution and biodiversity of fishes and other aquatic organisms. We are interested in the mechanisms that drive the origins, the maintenance and the loss of species, genetic and functional diversity.
Genetic development is influenced by the host-parasite relationship – but not only that!
Rapid changes in the genome of two closely interlinked species cannot be explained only by processes such as evolutionary pressure. Equally important is the role played by ecological processes, for example the dynamics of population size. This has been shown for the first time experimentally by an international team of researchers under the direction of Eawag and the University of Konstanz with an alga and a virus. The study will be published today in the magazine Science Advances. Read more
Adaptation to a new habitat can lead to the rapid evolution of new species. However, the genetic mechanisms allowing this are poorly known. A new publication in Nature Communications by David Marques, Kay Lucek, Vitor Sousa, Laurent Excoffier and Ole Seehausen shows now that threespine stickleback inhabiting Lake Constance have arisen from hybridization between two stickleback species from West and East Europe. The exchange of genetic material has facilitated rapid evolution of lake and stream ecotypes within the East European species, with ecotypes now breeding side by side without collapsing back into a single population. Lake Constance stickleback, alongside Lake Victoria cichlids, thus demonstrate that hybridization can be an important genetic mechanism facilitating the rapid evolution of new species.