Characterising genetic and phenotypic signatures of fisheries-induced life history evolution in commercially important Malawi cichlid fish. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2024


We currently lack a detailed understanding of how organisms rapidly adapt to environmental changes, which is key in evaluating and predicting human impact on nature, uncovering the genetic basis of adaptive traits, and gaining insight into fundamental evolutionary processes. Evolutionary response to a direct form of human impact, fishing,has often been discussed but evidence from natural systems is scarce. To address this, I will investigate genetic and phenotypic changes in Malawi cichlid fish following ~40 years of intense fishing. In particular, I will address life-history trait changes. Genome sequencing of museum specimens collected before and during fishing will give unprecedented insight into genes under selection. Extensive genomic resources available for Lake Malawi cichlids will allow me to investigate the evolutionary history of genes used in recent adaptation. I will leverage the ease of breeding cichlids in the lab to experimentally quantify genetic and environmental differences in traits implicated in fisheries-induced evolution. Furthermore, I will use state of the art (ancient) DNA and RNA sequencing technologies and bioinformatic methods to identify the genomic signature & molecular pathways involved in rapid life history adaptation. The combination of genome sequencing and controlled breeding experiments will greatly advance our understanding of how genomes can rapidly adapt to fishing and the link between selective pressures, phenotypes and genotypes.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project