The findings, which illuminate how programs of gene expression have evolved to control profoundly different developmental outcomes, are reported in the April 18th issue of Current Biology by Drs. Thomas Giger, Carlo Largiadr, and Laurent Excoffier of the University of Bern, along with colleagues from France, Ireland, Denmark, and the UK.
Salmonid fish, which include trout and whitefish as well as salmon, show exceptional levels of life-history variation--that is, residential and migratory types often co-occur within a single population of young fish. Before reaching sexual maturity and leaving their natal stream, migratory individuals undergo dramatic morphological, physiological, and behavioral changes that prepare them for adulthood in open fresh and salty waters.
In their innovative work, which is based on studying the gene expression profiles of hundreds of genes at a time in different fish populations, the resear
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