"Additional research, utilizing an increasing number of emerging cave-dwelling models, offers the exciting prospect of clarifying longstanding problems in contemporary evolutionary and vertebrate biology," says Gross.
High-Tech Imagery Used to Support Research
The UC researchers are using cutting-edge technology as they build a high-resolution, three-dimensional reconstructions of hybrids of the surface-dwelling and cave-dwelling fish, Astyanax mexicanus. The researchers turned to the Imaging Resource Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to perform an imaging technique called micro-computed tomography, or micro-CT, on more than 200 related fish. The technology allowed the researchers to capture more than 1,000 X-ray images for each fish, which they combined and rendered into a high-resolution, 3-D skull, using the Amira software program.
Doctoral student and researcher Amanda Krutzler says the interactive program allows the researchers to rotate the fish skull in 3-D and take precise measurements for any traits of interest. In addition, micro-CT allows the researchers to visualize soft tissues, such as the brain or cardiovascular systems. "These scans will generate a massive amount of data for our lab, which will provide projects for undergraduate students and graduate students like me," says Krutzler. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research grant provided the funding for the software.
In addition, doctoral student Brian Carlson used Circos software to visualize the connections between the cavefish genome and the zebrafish genome. "The more markers shared between a given cavefish linkage group and zebrafish chromosome, the thicker the ribbon that connects them. These representations are helpful in highlighting similarities between the cavefish and zebrafish genomes and may ultimately aid in identifying the genetic loci underlying the traits we examine by indicating which port
|Contact: Dawn Fuller|
University of Cincinnati