Department of Biology
Building M, Room M809
University of Konstanz
Tel: +49 (0) 7531 883443
The Genetic Basis of Coloration Patterns in Cichlids
The cichlids found in African and Neotropical lakes provide excellent examples of adaptive radiations, and therefore are ideal biological systems to study the process of diversification. One of the most important traits involved in the adaptive radiations of cichlids is coloration, which plays an important role in natural and sexual selection. For my Ph.D. thesis, I will be investigating the genetic basis of the rapid adaptation and phenotypic diversification in cichlids by examining the genes involved in the development of coloration patterns.
My first project will involve assaying the function of known color genes in vivo in the Midas cichlid, Amphilophus citrinellus. I will use transgenic technology to test the function of candidate genes in vivo and assess the resulting phenotypes in mature fish. Currently, I am working on refining the methods of establishing transgenesis in this species. My second project will examine the transcriptomic basis of coloration in several African species. Using RNAseq, I will compare gene expression levels in differently-colored tissues from six separate species, one subspecies, and between sexes.
Awards and Grants
- Kratochwil CF*, Sefton MM*, Meyer A. (2015). Embryonic and larval development in the Midas cichlid fish species flock (Amphilophus spp.): a new evo-devo model for the investigation of adaptive novelties and species differences. BMC Developmental Biology 15(1),12. * these authors contributed equally to this study
- 2014 – present: Ph.D. student in Prof. Axel Meyer’s research group at the University of Konstanz and the IMPRS for Organismal Biology. Supervisor: Claudius Kratochwil
- 2012 – 2013: MSc in Biological Sciences from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), in Prof. Ronald S. Burton’s research group
- 2007 – 2012: BSc in Biology: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD)
- 2010 – 2011: UC Education Abroad Program at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Awards and Grants
- 2015: IMPRS Student Project Grant
- 2014-2017: Hector Fellow Academy Ph.D. candidacy
- 2007-2011: University of California Regents Scholarship
- Sefton MM, Liang Y, Kratochwil CF, Meyer A. (2015). Early development and transgenesis in the Midas cichlid (Amphilophus spp.) - a new model system for evo-devo research. SMBE meeting, 12-16 July 2015, Vienna, Austria.
- Sefton MM. (2015). Investigating the role of gene regulatory evolution in the diversification of cichlid fish. Hector Fellow Academy Symposium, 2 July 2015, Tübingen, Germany.
- Sefton, MM, Pereira, R, Burton, RS. Selection for thermal tolerance in interpopulation hybrids of Tigriopus californicus. Poster presentation at Evolution 2013 in Snowbird, Utah.
- 2013 – present: Society for the Study of Evolution