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Understanding the role of old genomic variation in rapid adaptation.
The 100s of closely related but ecologically diverse species of Lake Malawi cichlid fishes provide an exceptional model to study the genomic mechanisms involved rapid adaptation and diversification. We have recently found that Lake Malawi cichlids harbour genomic regions of exceptionally high genetic diversity. In this project the student will analyse recently produced whole-genome sequencing data of 100s of Lake Malawi cichlid fish species to infer the evolutionary origin of genomic regions of high genetic diversity. For example, the student will test whether these genetic variants were brought into the ancestor of Lake Malawi cichlids by hybridisation with a divergent lineage of cichlid fish and whether this variation has been maintained by balancing selection. In a second step, the student will use population genetic methods to test for the role of these genetic variants in ecological adaptation and speciation of cichlid fish species. A specific application of this will be recent adaptation of populations to heavy fishing. Preliminary evidence suggests that genetic variation in regions of high ancestral diversity is under differential selection between weakly and heavily fished populations. The student will use statistical genomic techniques to test this systematically.
Date:1 Apr 2019 → Today
Disciplines:Population, ecological and evolutionary genetics