Axel Meyer

Axel Meyer
Universität Konstanz | Uni-Konstanz · Department of Biology

Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley 1988

About

988
Publications
187,949
Reads
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51,495
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2008 - July 2009
Institute of Advanced Study, Berlin
Position
  • Fellow
July 1997 - present
Universität Konstanz
Position
  • Professor (Full)
May 1993 - July 1997
Stony Brook University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (988)
Article
Full-text available
Cichlid fishes of the tribe Tropheini are a striking case of adaptive radiation, exemplifying multiple trophic transitions between herbivory and carnivory occurring in sympatry with other established cichlid lineages. Tropheini evolved highly specialized eco-morphologies to exploit similar trophic niches in different ways repeatedly and rapidly. To...
Article
Phylogenetic comparative studies suggest that the direction of deviation from bilateral symmetry (sidedness) might evolve through genetic assimilation; however, the changes in sidedness inheritance remain largely unknown. We investigated the evolution of genital asymmetry in fish of the family Anablepidae, in which males' intromittent organ (the go...
Article
Full-text available
The evolution of sex chromosomes and their differentiation from autosomes is a major event during genome evolution that happened many times in several lineages. The repeated evolution and lability of sex‐determination mechanisms in fishes makes this a well‐suited system to test for general patterns in evolution. According to current theory, differe...
Article
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Many European lake ecosystems, including their respective catchment areas, underwent anthropogenic environmental changes over the last centuries. This has resulted in changes in the aquatic and terrestrial vegetation, but historical records on the composition of the past vegetation on centennial scale are scarce. In this study, we examined changes...
Article
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High-throughput DNA sequencing technologies make it possible now to sequence entire genomes relatively easily. Complete genomic information obtained by whole-genome resequencing (WGS) can aid in identifying and delineating species even if they are extremely young, cryptic, or morphologically difficult to discern and closely related. Yet, for taxono...
Article
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Vision is critical for most vertebrates, including fish. One challenge that aquatic habitats pose is the high variability in spectral properties depending on depth and the inherent optical properties of the water. By altering opsin gene expression and chromophore usage, cichlid fish modulate visual sensitivities to maximize sensory input from the a...
Preprint
Full-text available
High-throughput DNA sequencing technologies make it possible now to sequence entire genomes relatively easily. Complete genomic information obtained by whole genome resequencing (WGS) can aid in identifying and delineating species even if they are extremely young, cryptic or morphologically difficult to discern and closely related. Yet for taxonomi...
Article
Full-text available
Color patterns are often linked to the behavioral and morphological characteristics of an animal, contributing to the effectiveness of such patterns as antipredatory strategies. Species-rich adaptive radiations, such as the freshwater fish family Cichlidae, provide an exciting opportunity to study trait correlations at a macroevolutionary scale. Ci...
Book
Full-text available
With the the support of the University of Guilan and the Iranian Society of Ichthyology, the "Ninth National and the First International Iranian Conference of Ichthyology" with the goal of exchanging ideas, synergy and updating knowledge in various areas of fish biodiversity, conservation of native fish species and protection of aquatic ecosystems...
Article
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Polymorphisms have fascinated biologists for a long time, but their genetic underpinnings often remain elusive. Here, we aim to uncover the genetic basis of the gold/dark polymorphism that is eponymous of Midas cichlid fish (Amphilophus spp.) adaptive radiations in Nicaraguan crater lakes. While most Midas cichlids are of the melanic “dark morph”,...
Article
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Background Fishes are the one of the most diverse groups of animals with respect to their modes of sex determination, providing unique models for uncovering the evolutionary and molecular mechanisms underlying sex determination and reversal. Here, we have investigated how sex is determined in a species of both commercial and ecological importance,...
Article
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Characterizing biological communities and knowledge on the distribution of biodiversity allows the assessment of ecological quality. This provides valuable information for conservation biology and monitoring purposes. While obtaining such data has been challenging in the past, environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling represents a promising tool to describ...
Article
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Few fishes have evolved elevated body temperatures compared to ambient temperatures and only in opah (Lampris spp) is the entire body affected. To understand the molecular basis of endothermy, we analyzed the opah genome and identified 23 genes with convergent amino acid substitutions across fish, birds, and mammals, including slc8b1, which encodes...
Article
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Exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics are apparently costly and seem to defy natural selection. This conundrum promoted the theory of sexual selection. Accordingly, exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics might be ornaments on which female choice is based and/or armaments used during male–male competition. Males of many cichlid fish spe...
Chapter
The Nicaraguan Midas cichlid species complex is a natural experiment where fish from a large source population from turbid and shallow great lakes very recently (<20,000 years ago) colonized eight small crater lakes. The colonizers experienced completely novel environments in the clear and deep calderas. So far, 13 Midas cichlid species have been d...
Article
Adaptive radiation of freshwater fishes was long thought to be possible only in lacustrine environments. Recently, several studies have shown that also riverine and stream environments provide the ecological opportunity for adaptive radiation. In this study, we report on a riverine adaptive radiation of six ecomorphs of cyprinid hillstream fishes o...
Article
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The iconic phenotype of seadragons includes leaf-like appendages, a toothless tubular mouth, and male pregnancy involving incubation of fertilized eggs on an open “brood patch.” We de novo–sequenced male and female genomes of the common seadragon ( Phyllopteryx taeniolatus ) and its closely related species, the alligator pipefish ( Syngnathoides bi...
Article
With over 18,000 species, the Acanthomorpha , or spiny-rayed fishes, form the largest and arguably most diverse radiation of vertebrates. One of the key novelties that contributed to their evolutionary success are the spiny rays in their fins that serve as a defense mechanism. We investigated the patterning mechanisms underlying the differentiation...
Article
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Understanding the origins of phenotypic diversity among closely related species remains an important largely unsolved question in evolutionary biology. With over 800 species, Lake Malawi haplochromine cichlid fishes are a prominent example of extremely fast evolution of diversity including variation in coloration. Previously, a single major effect...
Article
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High-quality and complete reference genome assemblies are fundamental for the application of genomics to biology, disease, and biodiversity conservation. However, such assemblies are available for only a few non-microbial species1–4. To address this issue, the international Genome 10K (G10K) consortium5,6 has worked over a five-year period to evalu...
Article
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While color patterns are highly diverse across the animal kingdom, certain patterns such as countershading and stripe patterns have evolved repeatedly. Across vertebrates, agouti‐signaling genes have been associated with the evolution of both patterns. Here we study the functional conservation and divergence by investigating the expression patterns...
Article
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The visual system of vertebrates has greatly contributed to our understanding of how different molecular mechanisms shape adaptive phenotypic diversity. Extensive work on African cichlid fishes has shown how variation in opsin gene expression mediates diversification as well as convergent evolution in color vision. This trait has received less atte...
Article
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Seahorses have a circum-global distribution in tropical to temperate coastal waters. Yet, seahorses show many adaptations for a sedentary, cryptic lifestyle: they require specific habitats, such as seagrass, kelp or coral reefs, lack pelvic and caudal fins, and give birth to directly developed offspring without pronounced pelagic larval stage, rend...
Article
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Lungfishes belong to lobe-fined fish (Sarcopterygii) that in the Devonian ‘conquered’ land and gave rise to all land vertebrates, including humans 1–3 . We determined the largest chromosome-quality animal genome, the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri . Its vast size (~14x of human) is attributable mostly to huge intergenic regions and intr...
Article
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Factors ranging from ecological opportunity to genome composition might explain why only some lineages form adaptive radiations. While being rare, particular systems can provide natural experiments within an identical ecological setting where the factors promoting increased species numbers and phenotypic divergence in two closely related lineages i...
Article
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The transition from ‘well-marked varieties’ of a single species into ‘well-defined species’—especially in the absence of geographic barriers to gene flow (sympatric speciation)—has puzzled evolutionary biologists ever since Darwin1,2. Gene flow counteracts the buildup of genome-wide differentiation, which is a hallmark of speciation and increases t...
Article
Sexual selection results in sex-specific characters like the conspicuously pigmented extension of the ventral tip of the caudal fin—the “sword”—in males of several species of Xiphophorus fishes. To uncover the genetic architecture underlying sword formation and to identify genes that are associated with its development, we characterized the sword t...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Recent increases in understanding the ecological and evolutionary roles of microbial communities have underscored the importance of their hosts’ biology. Yet, little is known about gut microbiota dynamics during the early stages of ecological diversification and speciation. We sequenced the V4 region of the 16s rRNA gene to study the gu...
Article
Linking genomic variation to phenotypical traits remains a major challenge in evolutionary genetics. In this study, we use phylogenomic strategies to investigate a distinctive trait among mammals: the development of masculinizing ovotestes in female moles. By combining a chromosome-scale genome assembly of the Iberian mole, Talpa occidentalis, with...
Article
Linking genomic variation to phenotypical traits remains a major challenge in evolutionary genetics. In this study, we use phylogenomic strategies to investigate a distinctive trait among mammals: the development of masculinizing ovotestes in female moles. By combining a chromosome-scale genome assembly of the Iberian mole, Talpa occidentalis , wit...
Article
Full-text available
The adaptive radiations of East African cichlid fish in the Great Lakes Victoria, Malawi, and Tanganyika are well known for their diversity and repeatedly evolved phenotypes. Convergent evolution of melanic horizontal stripes has been linked to a single locus harboring the gene agouti-related peptide 2 (agrp2). However, where and when the causal va...
Preprint
Sexual selection results in sex-specific characters like the conspicuously pigmented extension of the ventral tip of the caudal fin - the sword - in males of several species of Xiphophorus fishes. To uncover the genetic architecture underlying sword formation and to identify genes that are associated with its development, we characterized the sword...
Article
Full-text available
Many species change their coloration during ontogeny or even as adults. Color change hereby often serves as sexual or status signal. The cellular and subcellular changes that drive color change and how they are orchestrated have been barely understood, but a deeper knowledge of the underlying processes is important to our understanding of how such...
Article
Full-text available
Cichlid fishes are exceptionally species-rich, speciated at explosive rates and, hence, are a model system in speciation research. Yet, their reproductive isolating barriers have, so far, not been comprehensively studied. Here, we review current knowledge on pre-and postzygotic mechanisms in cichlids. While premating isolation is the norm in cichli...
Article
Animal genitalia vary considerably across taxa, with divergence in many morphological traits, including striking departures from symmetry. Different mechanisms have been proposed to explain this diversity, mostly assuming that at least some of the phenotypic variation is heritable. However, heritability of the direction of genital asymmetry has bee...
Article
Synopsis Dental convergence is a hallmark of cichlid fish adaptive radiations. This type of repeated evolution characterizes both the oral jaws of these fishes as well as their pharyngeal jaws that are modified gill arches used to functionally process prey like hard-shelled mollusks. To test several hypotheses regarding the evolution of cichlid cru...
Article
The two toothed jaws of cichlid fishes provide textbook examples of convergent evolution. Tooth phenotypes such as enlarged molar-like teeth used to process hard-shelled molluscs have evolved numerous times independently during cichlid diversification. While the ecological benefit of molar-like teeth to crush prey is known, it is unclear whether th...
Article
Synopsis Vertebrates interact directly with food items through their dentition, and these interactions with trophic resources could often feedback to influence tooth structure. Although dentitions are often considered to be a fixed phenotype, there is the potential for environmentally induced phenotypic plasticity in teeth to extensively influence...
Article
Teeth are a model system for integrating developmental genomics, functional morphology, and evolution. We are at the cusp of being able to address many open issues in comparative tooth biology, and we outline several of these newly tractable and exciting research directions. Like never before, technological advances and methodological approaches ar...
Article
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Sturgeons seem to be frozen in time. The archaic characteristics of this ancient fish lineage place it in a key phylogenetic position at the base of the ~30,000 modern teleost fish species. Moreover, sturgeons are notoriously polyploid, providing unique opportunities to investigate the evolution of polyploid genomes. We assembled a high-quality chr...
Article
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A persistent enigma is the rarity of polyploidy in animals, compared to its prevalence in plants. Although animal polyploids are thought to experience deleterious genomic chaos during initial polyploidization and subsequent rediploidization processes, this hypothesis has not been tested. We provide an improved reference-quality de novo genome for a...
Article
Chromosomal evolution is widely considered to be an important driver of speciation, as karyotypic reorganization can bring about the establishment of reproductive barriers between incipient species. One textbook example for genetic mechanisms of speciation are large-scale chromosomal rearrangements such as Robertsonian (Rb) fusions, a common class...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Recent increases in understanding the ecological and evolutionary roles of microbial communities has underscored the importance for their hosts’ biology. Yet, little is known about gut microbiota dynamics during early stages of ecological diversification and speciation. We sequenced the V4 region of the 16s rRNA gene to study the gut mi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Recent increases in understanding the ecological and evolutionary roles of microbial communities has underscored the importance for their hosts’ biology. Yet, little is known about gut microbiota dynamics during early stages of ecological diversification and speciation. We sequenced the V4 region of the 16s rRNA gene to study the gut mi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Recent increases in understanding the ecological and evolutionary roles of microbial communities has underscored the importance for their hosts’ biology. Yet, little is known about gut microbiota dynamics during early stages of ecological diversification and speciation. We sequenced the V4 region of the 16s rRNA gene to study the gut mi...
Article
Full-text available
Cichlid fishes’ famous diversity in body coloration is accompanied by a highly diverse and complex visual system. Although cichlids possess an unusually high number of seven cone opsin genes, they express only a subset of these during their ontogeny, accounting for their astonishing interspecific variation in visual sensitivities. Much of this dive...
Article
Full-text available
The East African adaptive radiations of cichlid fishes are renowned for their diversity in coloration. Yet, the developmental basis of pigment pattern formation remains largely unknown. One of the most common melanic patterns in cichlid fishes are vertical bar patterns. Here we describe the ontogeny of this conspicuous pattern in the Lake Kyoga spe...
Article
Full-text available
Color patterns in African cichlid fishes vary spectacularly. While phylogenetic analysis showed already 30 years ago that many color patterns evolved repeatedly in these adaptive radiations, only recently have we begun to understand the genic basis of color variation. Horizontal stripe patterns evolved and were lost several times independently acro...
Article
Full-text available
Sympatric speciation occurs without geographical barriers and is thought to often be driven by ecological specialization of individuals that eventually diverge genetically and phenotypically. Distinct morphologies between sympatric populations occupying different niches have been interpreted as such differentiating adaptive phenotypes, yet differen...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent increases in understanding the ecological and evolutionary roles of microbial communities has underscored their importance for their hosts' biology. Yet, little is known about gut microbiota dynamics during early stages of ecological diversification and speciation. We studied the gut microbiota of extremely young adaptive radiations of Nicar...
Article
Full-text available
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play crucial roles in the post-transcriptional control of messenger RNA (mRNA). These miRNA-mRNA regulatory networks are present in nearly all organisms and contribute to development, phenotypic divergence, and speciation. To examine the miRNA landscape of cichlid fishes, one of the most species-rich families of vertebrates, we p...
Article
Cichlid fishes provide textbook examples of explosive phenotypic diversification and sympatric speciation, thereby making them ideal systems for studying the molecular mechanisms underlying rapid lineage divergence. Despite the fact that gene regulation provides a critical link between diversification in gene function and speciation, many genomic r...
Article
The expression and function of hox genes have played a key role in the debate on the evolution of limbs from fins. As an early branching tetrapod lineage, lissamphibians may provide information on the origin of the limb's hox domains and particularly how the plesiomorphic tetrapod pattern compares to the hox pattern present in fish fins. Here, we c...
Article
Full-text available
Phenotypic plasticity, particularly during development, allows organisms to rapidly adjust to different environmental conditions. Yet, it is often unclear whether the extent and direction of plastic changes are restricted by an individual's ontogeny. Many species of cichlid fishes go through ontogenetic changes in visual sensitivity, from short to...
Article
Full-text available
The piranha enjoys notoriety due to its infamous predatory behavior but much is still not understood about its evolutionary origins and the underlying molecular mechanisms for its unusual feeding biology. We sequenced and assembled the red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) genome to aid future phenotypic and genetic investigations. The assemb...
Article
Full-text available
Freshwater sulfide springs have extreme environmental conditions that only few vertebrate species can tolerate. These species often develop a series of morphological and molecular adaptations to cope with the challenges of life under the toxic and hypoxic conditions of sul-fide springs. In this paper, we described a new fish species of the genus Je...
Article
The piranha enjoys notoriety due to its infamous predatory behavior but much is still not understood about its evolutionary origins and the underlying molecular mechanisms for its unusual feeding biology. We sequenced and assembled the red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) genome to aid future phenotypic and genetic investigations. The assemb...
Article
Full-text available
The mechanisms of speciation without geographic isolation (i.e., sympatric speciation) remain debated. This is due in part to the fact that the genomic landscape that could promote or hinder species divergence in the presence of gene flow is still largely unknown. However, intensive research is now centered on understanding the genetic architecture...
Article
Full-text available
Identifying the evolutionary and developmental bases of adaptive phenotypes is of central interest in evolutionary biology. Cichlid fishes have been a useful research model due to their extraordinary phenotypic diversity reflecting adaptations to often very narrow niches. Among them, the scale-eating Perissodus microlepis is considered to be a text...
Article
Full-text available
We have sequenced the genome of the largest freshwater fish species of the world, the arapaima. Analysis of gene family dynamics and signatures of positive selection identified genes involved in the specific adaptations and unique features of this iconic species, in particular it’s large size and fast growth. Genome sequences from both sexes combin...
Article
Full-text available
The vertebrate gene repertoire is characterized by “cryptic” genes whose identification has been hampered by their absence from the genomes of well-studied species. One example is the Bmp16 gene, a paralog of the developmental key genes Bmp2 and -4. We focus on the Bmp2/4/16 group of genes to study the evolutionary dynamics following gen(om)e dupli...