Insights into Sex Chromosome Evolution and Aging from the Genome of a Short-Lived Fish

Cell. 2015 Dec 3;163(6):1527-38. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.10.071.


The killifish Nothobranchius furzeri is the shortest-lived vertebrate that can be bred in the laboratory. Its rapid growth, early sexual maturation, fast aging, and arrested embryonic development (diapause) make it an attractive model organism in biomedical research. Here, we report a draft sequence of its genome that allowed us to uncover an intra-species Y chromosome polymorphism representing-in real time-different stages of sex chromosome formation that display features of early mammalian XY evolution "in action." Our data suggest that gdf6Y, encoding a TGF-β family growth factor, is the master sex-determining gene in N. furzeri. Moreover, we observed genomic clustering of aging-related genes, identified genes under positive selection, and revealed significant similarities of gene expression profiles between diapause and aging, particularly for genes controlling cell cycle and translation. The annotated genome sequence is provided as an online resource (

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Female
  • Genome
  • Killifishes / genetics*
  • Killifishes / physiology
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sex Chromosomes*
  • Sex Determination Processes

Associated data

  • BioProject/PRJEB5837
  • BioProject/PRJNA29535
  • GENBANK/KG817100
  • GENBANK/KG959958