Genomic Analysis of Sub- and High-Antarctic Notothenioid Fishes
Because they adapted very rapidly from a temperate life style to one of chronic cold as the Southern Ocean cooled, the notothenioid fishes, both Sub-Antarctic and High-Antarctic, offer compelling model systems for studying genomic change under extreme conditions. Recent results obtained by the Detrich laboratory suggest that genomic evolution in the notothenioid fishes of the Antarctic has been driven in part by repetitive genomic elements (“jumping genes”). Thus, in the context of global change the notothenioid fishes provide a test-bed for determination of the rapidity of genome evolution, the mechanisms of genomic change, and the potential for Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic marine organisms to adaptively evolve if the Southern Ocean warms. Through comparative study of key genetic pathways of the Sub-Antarctic fishes, collected during the ICEFISH Cruise, and the same pathways in their Antarctic relatives, we may be able to estimate the capacity of polar and sub-polar species to adapt to global climate change, in terms of physiological function, distribution patterns, and ecosystem balance.