Stickleback evolution

12 May 2012

Interview with

Nell Barrie

Kat - Another story that we saw, also involving this large scale genome sequencing but not in humans, but in fishes. What's this one?

Nell - Yeah, I like this. This is about sticklebacks and how they've evolved and they were actually looking at how the different species evolved to adapt in the same sort of way, and it's a sort of convergent evolution thing. So they haven't all come from one common stickleback ancestor. They've all adapted similar genes in similar ways, but independently which is really cool.

Kat - So it's like 21 different species of sticklebacks that they sampled from different lakes around the world that obviously, they separate and they're separated by geography. But yeah, they found that the genes are changed in the same way to help the sticklebacks adapt so I thought that was a really nice example that tells you about how evolutionary processes might work. There was quite a sad thing I saw as well.

Nell - Yeah, at the end, they were saying that some of the sticklebacks they've been studying from a place called Bear Paw Lake were actually being threatened by some big pikes that are coming in which are invasive predators. I mean, you might think, "Oh, it'll be fine. They can re-evolve themselves" but we know that that's not true and every species is individual and unique, so yeah, they have a bit of a sad end to that.

Kat - They can't evolve. They've all been eaten.

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