Nidal Karagic PhD Candidate at the University of Konstanz, Germany in the Axel Meyer Lab
A hallmark of evolution is adaptation to different ecological niches accompanied by the emergence of different phenotypes. What I am particularly interested in is what drives such phenotypic divergence from a genetic and developmental perspective. Especially when evolution repeats itself and we observe similar phenotypes in more or less distantly related taxa, I wonder how many different ways there are to to resolve the same evolutionary problem at the phenotypic level. A great system to address these questions are cichlid fishes in Africa and the Neotropics where a large degree of convergence is observed in diverse phenotypes, such as stripe patterns, hypertrophied lips, head humps, various color vision phenotypes and different jaw morphologies. Understanding why these phenotypes evolve in convergence in some cases but not in others and how these phenotypes are produced are crucial questions to truly understand biodiversity. Right now, I am working on the developmental genetic basis of color vision and different jaw morphologies in Neotropical cichlid species.