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Platyfish genome deciphered, offers potential model for cancer research

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
April 1, 2013

Platyfish X. maculatus

X. maculatus

A research team including a faculty member from Texas State University has published the sequence and analysis of the platyfish genome in the current issue of the British science journal Nature Genetics.

The work represents the first genome sequence of a poeciliid fish and provides a potential model for cancer research as well as insights into evolutionary adaptation in this freshwater fish.

Ron Walter, director of the Xiphophorus Genetic Stock Center in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas State, shared lead author credit with Manfred Schartl of the University of Würzburg, Biozentrum, Am Hubland, Würzburg, Germany. The Xiphophorus Genetic Stock Center has additional resources and information on the X. maculatus genome available online at

The authors use the sequencing of the platyfish genome as a model to examine the evolution of a number of traits, including a live bearing reproductive mode, pigmentation patterns, cancer and behavioral traits. They identify a gene implicated in both pigmentation patterning and melanoma development in the platyfish. They also find evidence for selection of genes associated with viviparity–the development of the embryo inside the body of the mother, eventually leading to a live birth. In addition, they identify selective retention of duplicate genes implicated in cognition during the evolution of teleost fish, suggesting a model for the evolution of behavioral complexity in fish.

The research work was supported by U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP), Division of Comparative Medicine grants (including an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act supplement), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, VolkswagenStiftung and by the Agence Nationale de Recherche.

The paper is available for review at For additional information, contact Ron Walter at (512) 245-0357 or via email at, or Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York, at (212) 726-9231 or via email at