What is truly remarkable is that the two independently derived cavefish colonies examined in this study evolved strikingly similar metabolic adaptations to survive in dark, nutrient-scarce environments. This raises the question, what can we learn from animals who have had the time to evolve? And even further, if multiple cavefish populations evolved in a very similar manner completely independently from each other, are there universal adaptation mechanisms that could potentially be triggered in other species like humans?
“We know only a handful of genes that could be therapeutic targets,” said Krishnan. “This means we need to adopt novel ways to identify such potential genes so that we can investigate them, and cavefish are a very powerful system for us to do that.”
Coauthors include Christopher W. Seidel, PhD, Ning Zhang, PhD, Narendra Pratap Singh, PhD, Jake VanCampen, Robert Peuß, PhD, Shaolei Xiong, Alexander Kenzior, Hua Li, PhD, and Joan W. Conaway, PhD.
Funding for the study was provided by JDRF, the Edward Mallinckrodt Foundation, the National Institutes for Health (award R01GM127872), the National Science Foundation (award IOS-1933428), the Enabling Discovery through GEnomics of the National Science Foundation (award 1923372), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (award PE2807/1-1) and by institutional support from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
About the Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Founded in 1994 through the generosity of Jim Stowers, founder of American Century Investments, and his wife, Virginia, the Stowers Institute for Medical Research is a non-profit, biomedical research organization with a focus on foundational research. Its mission is to expand our understanding of the secrets of life and improve life’s quality through innovative approaches to the causes, treatment, and prevention of diseases.
The Institute consists of 17 independent research programs. Of the approximately 500 members, over 370 are scientific staff that include principal investigators, technology center directors, postdoctoral scientists, graduate students, and technical support staff. Learn more about the Institute at www.stowers.org and about its graduate program at www.stowers.org/gradschool.