(Manfred Schartl, Petra Fischer, Jenny Ormanns, Cornelia Schmidt)
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 our melanoma model organism, the platyfish Xiphophorus maculatus, the Amazon molly, a unisexual clonal fish species, the coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae, a marine flatfish Cynoglossus semilaevis, the lungfish and others. We analyze the genomes with a special attention to 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 as important drivers of evolutionary innovations and adaptations. We are also interested how several traits like secondary sex characters, the age of sexual maturation (puberty) or pigmentation patterns evolve and have an impact on speciation.