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Genetic rewiring behind spectacular evolutionary explosion in East Africa


Genetic rewiring could have driven an evolutionary explosion in the shapes, sizes and adaptations of cichlid fish, in East Africa’s answer to Darwin’s Galapagos finches.

Published in BMC Genome Biology, an Earlham Institute study, with collaborators at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, shows that ‘genetic rewiring’ at non-coding regions – rather than mutations to protein-coding regions of genes – may play an important role in how cichlid fish are able to rapidly adapt to fill a staggeringly wide range of environmental niches in the East African Rift lakes.

The results could help future studies to improve breeding of economically important cichlid species such as tilapia – a staple in aquaculture. MORE

Header image: Earlham Institute.