Hybridization Partially Restores Vision in Cavefish, NYU Study Finds


Hybridizing blind cave fish from different cave populations can partially restore the vision of their offspring, biologists at New York University have found. The study suggests that genetic engineering can override, at least in part, half a million years of evolutionary change in one generation.

The study examined four populations of blind cavefish from different caves, depicted with arrows, in Mexico.
The study examined four populations of blind cavefish from different caves, depicted with arrows, in Mexico.

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: January 7, 2008, noon, EST

Hybridizing blind cave fish from different cave populations can partially restore the vision of their offspring, biologists at New York University have found. The study suggests that genetic engineering can override, at least in part, half a million years of evolutionary change in one generation.

“Evolution has many ways to accomplish the same end result, which in the case of cave fish is blindness,” said NYU Biology Professor Richard Borowsky, the study’s lead author. “For this reason, the genes that are mutated in one population that lead to blindness are different in other, independently evolved populations. Thus, when you cross them, the genetic deficiencies in one lineage are compensated for by strengths in the other, and vice-versa.”

The research, supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, appears in the most recent issue of the journal Current Biology.

The study examined four populations of blind cave fish, Astyanax mexicanus, which inhabit different caves in northeast Mexico. Blind for millennia, these fish evolved from eyed, surface fish. The researchers’ genetic analysis showed that the evolutionary impairment of eye development, as well as the loss of pigmentation and other cave-related changes 500

Cannot serve request to /content/nyu/en/about/news-publications/news/2008/january/hybridization_partially.html on this server


ApacheSling/2.2 (Day-Servlet-Engine/4.1.52, Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM 1.7.0_80, Linux 2.6.32-696.6.3.el6.centos.plus.x86_64 amd64)