Having a set of extra genes gave fish on separate continents the ability to evolve electric organs, report researchers from The University of Texas at Austin.
Weakly electric fish from South America, Sternarchorhynchus mormyrus, and Africa, Campylomormyrus phantasticus. Both fish evolved the ability to generate and sense electric fields. These two species also independently evolved curved jaws for bottom feeding. Electric discharges for each species are indicated. Images courtesy of Carl D. Hopkins and John Sullivan. Click photo above for high-resolution image of electric fish.
Dr. Harold Zakon and colleagues, in a paper recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that African and South American groups of fish independently evolved electric organs by modifying sodium channel proteins typically used in muscle contraction.
Mutations in sodium channel proteins can cause serious muscular disorders, epilepsy and heart problems in humans and other vertebrates.
Lee Clippard | EurekAlert!
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