Genetically and environmentally mediated divergence in lateral line morphology in the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata)

Eva K. Fischer, Daphne Soares, Kathryn R. Archer, Cameron K. Ghalambor, Kim L. Hoke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Fish and other aquatic vertebrates use their mechanosensory lateral line to detect objects and motion in their immediate environment. Differences in lateral line morphology have been extensively characterized among species; however, intraspecific variation remains largely unexplored. In addition, little is known about how environmental factors modify development of lateral line morphology. Predation is one environmental factor that can act both as a selective pressure causing genetic differences between populations, and as a cue during development to induce plastic changes. Here, we test whether variation in the risk of predation within and among populations of Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata) influences lateral line morphology. We compared neuromast arrangement in wild-caught guppies from distinct high- and low-predation population pairs to examine patterns associated with differences in predation pressure. To distinguish genetic and environmental influences, we compared neuromast arrangement in guppies from different source populations reared with and without exposure to predator chemical cues. We found that the distribution of neuromasts across the body varies between populations based on both genetic and environmental factors. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate variation in lateral line morphology based on environmental exposure to an ecologically relevant stimulus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3132-3142
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


  • Differential selection
  • Intraspecific variation
  • Neuromast
  • Predator cues


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