Lungfish Mega-Genomes: Analysis of the Largest Vertebrate Genomes and the Evolution of Tetrapod Adaptations


Lungfish occupy an evolutionary key position for the understanding of tetrapod evolution and genomic, physiological and morphological innovations that permitted the terrestrialization of vertebrates. Lungfish are not only ”living fossils” in a crucial position in the evolution of vertebrates – they also have the largest genomes in the animal kingdom. The mechanisms that have led and that maintain such a large animal genome are still poorly understood. These features make the lungfish and a comparison to the axolotl genome (we are planning to collaborate with Elly Tanaka; see supporting letter) a highly interesting study system to trace tetrapod innovations and the structure and the origin of large genomes. Although a hypothesis of a di-phyletic origin of tetrapods (salamander descend from lungfish-like porolepiform fish and all other tetrapods descent from osteolepiform fishes) was advocated by the majority of paleontologists and comparative morphologists in the first half of the 20th century (Rosen et al. 1981), it has not received support lately (Panchen and Smithson 1987). However, the similarly gigantic genomes of lungfish and salamander is an interesting parallelism that will be investigated genomically by us. Composition of the project group:

- Prof. Thorsten Burmester (Universität Hamburg) and his group

- Prof. Manfred Schartl (Julius-Maximilians Universität Würzburg) and his group

  • Department of Biology
Funding sources
Name Finanzierungstyp Kategorie Project no.
Sachbeihilfe/Normalverfahren third-party funds research funding program 679/19
Further information
Period: 01.05.2019 – 30.04.2022