My lab’s research focuses broadly on the mechanisms, evolution, and consequences of mate choice. The heart of our research program is animal behavior, and we enjoy collaborating with other labs with complementary areas of specialization. The lab’s main study system is natural hybrid zones of swordtail fish, centered at our CICHAZ research station, in the Sierra Madre Oriental of Hidalgo, Mexico.
Hybrids between Xiphophorus malinche and X. birchmanni represent a ‘genomic collision’ between two species with divergent suites of male traits and female preferences, and provide a terrific opportunity to understand both the genomic architecture underlying mate choice and the fitness consequences of novel sexual phenotypes in the wild. Ongoing research centers on a long-term study of natural and experimental hybrid populations, combining evolutionary genetics with morphological, behavioral, and neurobiological approaches to sexual communication. Social and environmental effects on chemical signaling also play a major role in this system. In conjunction with efforts to characterize the genetics of multivariate female mating preferences, we have developed and support anyFish, a new tool for the creation of synthetic animated stimuli for studying visual signals.
I am also involved in a collaborative project on mate choice, life-history evolution, and ecology in the annual killifish genus Austrolebias. Like swordtails, these remarkable little Uruguayan fishes lend themselves well to both field and laboratory work. They are restricted to seasonal bodies of water, where they grow rapidly, reproduce, and die within the space of a few winter months, leaving their eggs to estivate in diapause. These closed systems should allow us to gain a comprehensive picture of the biotic and abiotic environment, and, in concert with behavioral studies of mate choice, how sexual selection changes over space and time.
- Broder, ED, Elias, DO, Rodríguez, RL, Rosenthal, GG, Seymoure, BM, Tinghitella, RM et al.. Evolutionary novelty in communication between the sexes. Biol Lett. 2021;17 (2):20200733. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2020.0733. PubMed PMID:33529546 .
- Powell, DL, Payne, C, Banerjee, SM, Keegan, M, Bashkirova, E, Cui, R et al.. The Genetic Architecture of Variation in the Sexually Selected Sword Ornament and Its Evolution in Hybrid Populations. Curr Biol. 2021;31 (5):923-935.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.12.049. PubMed PMID:33513352 .
- Powell, DL, García-Olazábal, M, Keegan, M, Reilly, P, Du, K, Díaz-Loyo, AP et al.. Natural hybridization reveals incompatible alleles that cause melanoma in swordtail fish. Science. 2020;368 (6492):731-736. doi: 10.1126/science.aba5216. PubMed PMID:32409469 .
- Delclos, PJ, Forero, SA, Rosenthal, GG. Divergent neurogenomic responses shape social learning of both personality and mate preference. J Exp Biol. 2020;223 (Pt 6):. doi: 10.1242/jeb.220707. PubMed PMID:32054683 .
- Achorn, AM, Rosenthal, GG. It's Not about Him: Mismeasuring 'Good Genes' in Sexual Selection. Trends Ecol Evol. 2020;35 (3):206-219. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2019.11.007. PubMed PMID:31858995 .
- Rosenthal, GG. Reproductive Strategies: Eat Your Kids to Restart Your Sex Life. Curr Biol. 2018;28 (17):R946-R948. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.08.009. PubMed PMID:30205068 .
- Rosenthal, GG, Handling editor: Becky Fuller. Evaluation and hedonic value in mate choice. Curr Zool. 2018;64 (4):485-492. doi: 10.1093/cz/zoy054. PubMed PMID:30108629 PubMed Central PMC6084558.
- Schumer, M, Xu, C, Powell, DL, Durvasula, A, Skov, L, Holland, C et al.. Natural selection interacts with recombination to shape the evolution of hybrid genomes. Science. 2018;360 (6389):656-660. doi: 10.1126/science.aar3684. PubMed PMID:29674434 PubMed Central PMC6069607.
- Rosenthal, GG, Schumer, M, Andolfatto, P. How the manakin got its crown: A novel trait that is unlikely to cause speciation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018;115 (18):E4144-E4145. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1804061115. PubMed PMID:29669913 PubMed Central PMC5939116.
- Powell, DL, Rosenthal, GG. What artifice can and cannot tell us about animal behavior. Curr Zool. 2017;63 (1):21-26. doi: 10.1093/cz/zow091. PubMed PMID:29491959 PubMed Central PMC5804151.