Shaolei Xiong

Rohner Lab

One of the hallmarks of cave environments is food scarcity. Cavefish depend on food that originates from outside the cave. Only during the rainy period in the summer months do seasonal floods sweep into the caves to provide food. To survive the limited and sporadic food supply, cavefish have evolved a suite of adaptations, including elevated appetite, higher metabolic efficiency, and starvation resistance. When food is available, cavefish binge eats and stores a lot fat. However, cavefish is still healthy. With genomics, genetics techniques, histological staining, and multidisciplinary techniques, I want to reveal the genetic architecture of how cavefish is able to prevent lipotoxicity and how do they maintain low cholesterol level. Understanding the genetic basis of how cavefish stay healthy is necessary and important, since it can reveal how animals can adapt their lipid profile to deal with fluctuating food supply. Furthermore, it may help us to gain insights into novel strategies to treat or ameliorate human lipid metabolism disorders.