Body shape differences in a pair of closely related Malawi cichlids and their hybrids: Effects of genetic variation, phenotypic plasticity, and transgressive segregation

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This article investigates the contributions of genetic and plastic components for differences in body shape in two species of Lake Malawi cichlids using wild-caught specimens and a common garden experiment.

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11 p.

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Husemann, Martin; Tobler, Michael; McCauley, Cagney; Ding, Baoqing & Danley, Patrick D. January 28, 2017.

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This article investigates the contributions of genetic and plastic components for differences in body shape in two species of Lake Malawi cichlids using wild-caught specimens and a common garden experiment.

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11 p.

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Abstract: Phenotypic differences may have genetic and plastic components. Here, we investigated the contributions of both for differences in body shape in two species of Lake Malawi cichlids using wild-caught specimens and a common garden experiment. We further hybridized the two species to investigate the mode of gene action influencing body shape differences and to examine the potential for transgressive segregation. We found that body shape differences between the two species observed in the field are maintained after more than 10 generations in a standardized environment. Nonetheless, both species experienced similar changes in the laboratory environment. Our hybrid cross experiment confirmed that substantial variation in body shape appears to be genetically determined. The data further suggest that the underlying mode of gene action is complex and cannot be explained by simple additive or additive-dominance models. Transgressive phenotypes were found in the hybrid generations, as hybrids occupied significantly more morphospace than both parentals combined. Further, the body shapes of transgressive individuals resemble the body shapes observed in other Lake Malawi rock-dwelling genera. Our findings indicate that body shape can respond to selection immediately, through plasticity, and over longer timescales through adaptation. In addition, our results suggest that hybridization may have played an important role in the diversification of Lake Malawi cichlids through creating new phenotypic variation.

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  • Ecology and Evolution, 2017. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley

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  • Publication Title: Ecology and Evolution
  • Volume: 7
  • Page Start: 4336
  • Page End: 4346
  • Peer Reviewed: Yes

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UNT Student Graduate Works

This collection houses graduate student works other than theses and dissertations. All materials have been previously accepted by a professional organization or approved by a faculty mentor. The collection includes, but is not limited to problems in lieu of thesis, supplemental files associated with theses and dissertations, posters, recitals, presentations, articles, reviews, book chapters, and artwork. Some items in this collection are restricted to use by the UNT community.

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  • January 28, 2017

Submitted Date

  • July 11, 2016

Accepted Date

  • December 21, 2016

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • July 30, 2018, 12:01 p.m.

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Husemann, Martin; Tobler, Michael; McCauley, Cagney; Ding, Baoqing & Danley, Patrick D. Body shape differences in a pair of closely related Malawi cichlids and their hybrids: Effects of genetic variation, phenotypic plasticity, and transgressive segregation, article, January 28, 2017; Hoboken, New Jersey. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1213708/: accessed December 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.