CEES Extra seminar: Genetics of adaptation in the Japanese sticklebacks
By Jun Kitano from National Institute of Genetics, Japan
Our research goal is to identify molecular changes underlying naturally occurring phenotypic variation and speciation and understand how such variations arise and spread within natural populations. Because of recent advances in genomic technologies, an increasing number of candidate genomic loci or genes responsible for adaptation and speciation have been identified. Molecular changes or causative mutations, however, have been rarely elucidated in most cases. Without knowing causative mutations, we cannot understand how many mutations are important, whether each mutation is additive or epistatic, or what kind of selective pressures have acted on each mutation. To this end, we take an integrative approach across diverse disciplines using stickleback fishes as models. The first step is to conduct detailed field surveys to characterize phenotypic variation and reproductive isolation between natural populations. Next, we use genetic and genomic technologies to find candidate genes responsible for such variation. Then, we use biochemical and cell culture assay to study the functions of genetic changes in these candidate genes in vitro. We also make genetically engineered sticklebacks using TALEN/CRISPR technologies and tol2-mediated transgenesis to investigate their physiological functions in vivo. Finally, we use semi-natural settings to investigate how the mutant alleles behave in different environments. In this presentation, I will talk about our recent work on the identification of causative genes underlying freshwater adaptation in the Japanese sticklebacks.
Jun Kitano (Homepage at ecogen.sakura.ne.jp)
Division of Ecological Genetics
Department of Population Genetics
National Institute of Genetics