Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Still Capable of Adapting: Genetic Diversity of 'Living Fossil' Coelacanths

ScienceDaily (June 14, 2012) — The morphology of coelacanths has not fundamentally changed since the Devonian age, that is, for about 400 million years. Nevertheless, these animals known as living fossils are able to genetically adapt to their environment.



This is described by PD Dr. Kathrin Lampert from the RUB's Department of Animal Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity along with colleagues from Würzburg, Bremen, Kiel and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) in the journal Current Biology. "Coelacanths are rare and extremely endangered. Understanding the genetic diversity of these animals could help make preservation schemes against their extinction more effective" says the biologist.
Different populations in Africa studied
Previous genetic studies focused mainly on the biological relationships of coelacanths to lungfish and and vertebrates. In order to assess whether the fish are still able to adapt to new environmental conditions, however, you have to know the genetic diversity within the species. For this purpose, the research team examined 71 specimens from various sites on the east coast of Africa. The researchers analysed genetic markers from the nucleus and from the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cells.

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