Hybridization underlies localized trait evolution in cavefish. Academic Article uri icon


  • Introgressive hybridization may play an integral role in local adaptation and speciation (Taylor and Larson, 2019). In the Mexican tetra Astyanax mexicanus, cave populations have repeatedly evolved traits including eye loss, sleep loss, and albinism. Of the 30 caves inhabited by A.mexicanus, Chica cave is unique because it contains multiple pools inhabited by putative hybrids between surface and cave populations (Mitchell etal., 1977), providing an opportunity to investigate the impact of hybridization on complex trait evolution. We show that hybridization between cave and surface populations may contribute to localized variation in traits associated with cave evolution, including pigmentation, eye development, and sleep. We also uncover an example of convergent evolution in a circadian clock gene in multiple cavefish lineages and burrowing mammals, suggesting a shared genetic mechanism underlying circadian disruption in subterranean vertebrates. Our results provide insight into the role of hybridization in facilitating phenotypic evolution.

published proceedings

  • iScience

altmetric score

  • 26.9

author list (cited authors)

  • Moran, R. L., Jaggard, J. B., Roback, E. Y., Kenzior, A., Rohner, N., Kowalko, J. E., ... Keene, A. C.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Moran, Rachel L||Jaggard, James B||Roback, Emma Y||Kenzior, Alexander||Rohner, Nicolas||Kowalko, Johanna E||Ornelas-GarcĂ­a, Claudia Patricia||McGaugh, Suzanne E||Keene, Alex C

publication date

  • February 2022