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K-State Today

February 8, 2018

Division of Biology presents Nicolas Rohner on Feb. 9

Submitted by Division of Biology

Nicolas Rohner, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, will present "Of Cavefish and Cavemen: What can we learn from blind, fat fish to keep us healthy?" as part of the Division of Biology seminar series at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, in 221 Ackert Hall.

The abstract for the lecture is focused on understanding the genetic basis of adaptation that has broad implications not only for a basic understanding of evolution, but also for human pathologies given that many human diseases are a consequence of mis-adaptation to modern societies. The emerging model system Astyanax mexicanus has become an important fish species to address adaptation to extreme environments due to its unique ecology and the availability of genetic tools, genomic resources and comparative approaches. Cave environments are typically dark and consequently nutrient deprived. Because of the limited — often seasonally restricted — food supply, cavefish have acquired different strategies such as hyperphagia, elevated fat storage, and insulin resistance to cope with such harsh conditions. Remarkably, none of these phenotypes are leading to measurable health disadvantages in these fish, even when fed ad libitum in the laboratory environment. As such, we propose cavefish as a novel system which offers the possibility of identifying genetic pathways that can be protective under extreme nutritional situations.

If you would like to visit with Rohner, please contact Michi Tobler at tobler@k-state.edu