How organisms adapt to new environment and generate novel phenotypes are fundamental questions in biology. Cave adapted animals offer outstanding opportunities to answer them because the cave environment is simple, novel phenotypes evolved convergently in different phyla, and surface dwelling relatives resembling the ancestral form are available for comparative studies. We will integrate molecular, cellular, and organismal approaches to 1) explore the effect of the environment and 2) investigate the molecular origin of a major evolutionary adaptation.
Objective of the project is to establish an independent research group and lab. Research group will consist of PI, technician, 2 doctoral students and 2 postdoctoral researchers. All group members will be hired within the first year of project implementation.
In addition to lab space, group will have animal facilities for maintenance and breeding of research organisms adapted to caves: teleost fish Astyanax mexicanus and various invertebrates such as cave planaria, cave mollusks (e.g. cave clam Congeria kusceri), cave arthropods (e.g. cave collembola, isopods, shrimp etc.).