Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Cave Fish as a Model for Human Disease

 Astyanax Mexicanus is a species of fish that has adapted to underwater caves. There are the surface fish that thrive in the surface and have unlimited resources, as opposed to the cave-dwelling ones. They have lost their eyes, their pigment, have gained symptoms of diabetes and show symptoms of autism. However, despite this they are thriving. In fact, studies have shown that cave fish are healthier and live longer than their surface counterparts. 

To humans those adaptations seem more harmful than helpful because humans with any of those tend to struggle more in life. So how is it possible for these fish to live healthier and longer lives? By looking at their genome we can determine what genes cause these maladaptations. It is possible to determine the exact genes because of the difference between the cave and surface fish. They are the same species and have the same genome making it easier to determine the specific genes that cause the changes. 


Theoretically once the genes that cause these maladaptations are determined it will allow researchers to determine the genes more accurately in humans that cause these illnesses. It could either help determine how to “fix” the illnesses, or it could help researchers understand how it can become a positive adaptation. It can allow people to live healthy and long lives alongside these illnesses. 




Jackelyn Raymundo Santizo (9)


  1. Hi Jackelyn!
    Great post! I have not heard of fish being used as a model for diseases, however, your article illustrates that the research is promising.
    Sarah Conant

  2. Hello, interesting post to read since this is the first time I have heard of a fish species used to research human diseases.
    - Tugba Kahveci

  3. It's very interesting how genes can be harmful for one species and beneficial for another. I wonder why these specific genes are beneficial for the cave-dwelling fish. I don't really understand what it means that the fish show, "symptoms of autism," so I'll have to give the article a read!
    - Declan Downing

  4. Hi I loved this post. I was wondering how these fish show symptoms of autism? I did not know animals could be diagnosed with that

  5. Hi Jackelyn,
    I found it very interesting that fish living with symptoms of autism are still thriving and were able to adapt to life without their eyes. It's truly inspiring to see the unexplored wonders of nature