Dark world rises: The emergence of cavefish as a model for the study of evolution, development, behavior, and disease. Academic Article uri icon


  • A central question in biology is how naturally occurring genetic variation accounts for morphological and behavioral diversity within a species. The Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus, has been studied for nearly a century as a model for investigating trait evolution. In March of 2019, researchers representing laboratories from around the world met at the Sixth Astyanax International Meeting in Santiago de Quertaro, Mexico. The meeting highlighted the expanding applications of cavefish to investigations of diverse aspects of basic biology, including development, evolution, and disease-based applications. A broad range of integrative approaches are being applied in this system, including the application of state-of-the-art functional genetic assays, brain imaging, and genome sequencing. These advances position cavefish as a model organism for addressing fundamental questions about the genetics and evolution underlying the impressive trait diversity among individual populations within this species.

published proceedings

  • J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • McGaugh, S. E., Kowalko, J. E., Dubou, E., Lewis, P., Franz-Odendaal, T. A., Rohner, N., Gross, J. B., & Keene, A. C.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • McGaugh, Suzanne E||Kowalko, Johanna E||DubouĂ©, Erik||Lewis, Peter||Franz-Odendaal, Tamara A||Rohner, Nicolas||Gross, Joshua B||Keene, Alex C

publication date

  • November 2020