Chapter

Extremophile Fishes

pp 279-296

Date:

Extremophile Fishes: An Integrative Synthesis

  • Michael ToblerAffiliated withDivision of Biology, Kansas State University Email author 
  • , Rüdiger RieschAffiliated withSchool of Biological Sciences, Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour, Royal Holloway University of London
  • , Martin PlathAffiliated withSino-German Animal Research Center, College of Animal Science and Technology, Northwest A&F University

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Abstract

Extremophile fishes have emerged as veritable models for investigations in integrative biology. They not only provide insights into biochemical, physiological, and developmental processes that govern life, but also allow for the elucidation of life’s capacities and limitations to adapt to extreme environmental conditions. Over the past decades, researchers have made substantial progress towards understanding mechanisms underlying adaptation to extreme conditions mediated through a wide variety of physicochemical stressors. This chapter reviews some of the common themes and approaches used in the investigation of extremophiles and highlights several of the major open questions in this field: (1) Why do fish colonize extreme environments? (2) How can we gain an understanding of the mechanistic links between genomes and fitness of extremophiles in their natural environment? (3) How common is convergent evolution in extreme environments? (4) How do physicochemical stressors shape macroevolutionary processes? (5) How does acknowledging environmental and organismal complexity change our knowledge of evolution in extreme environments? Finally, (6) how can we make basic research on extremophiles applicable to solving major scientific challenges of our time and the coming decades?