Nature Eco Evo

Sticklebacks and Hopeless Monsters

What types of genes and mutations underlie the striking anatomical differences found in wild species? New genetic research shows that wild stickleback fish evolve major changes in their defensive armor using the vertebrate homologs of the famous Hox genes of Drosophila. Four-winged fruit flies have been described as "hopeless monsters" that would never survive outside the laboratory. However, sticklebacks with different bony spine patterns are thriving under a full range of fitness constraints in natural environments, providing a striking example of how wild vertebrate species evolve new body structures through repeated regulatory mutations in key developmental control genes.
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Sep 02, 2022