(Manfred Schartl, Kang Du, Petra Fischer)
The function of any gene is shaped by its evolutionary history and its genomic context. We are interested in the evolution of genes involved in cancer, pigmentation, sex determination and reproductive development.
The opportunities offered by the next generation sequencing technologies allow to obtain the full genome information now also for interesting species besides the mainstream laboratory models, which offers new insights into their evolution and biology.
We are members of several international consortia (some initiated and coordinated by us) for the de-novo sequencing, assembly and annotation of fish genomes, which include the platyfish Xiphophorus maculatus, our melanoma model organism; the Amazon molly, a unisexual clonal fish species; the coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae; the lungfishes and several teleost fishes representing many major phylogenetic groups with a special focus on livebearing species. We analyze their genomes with a special attention on the evolution of genes and gene families, which are of our interest from the cancer projects and the evolution of sex determination mechanisms and sex chromosomes. Major focuses are gene and whole genome duplications and transposable elements as important drivers of evolutionary innovations and adaptations. We are also interested in how several traits like secondary sex characters, the age of sexual maturation (puberty) or pigmentation patterns evolve and have an impact on speciation.