Michael Tobler, assistant zoology professor at Oklahoma State University, was awarded a three-year $481,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the evolution of fish living in sulfidic environments.
Tobler will analyze fish in the presence of hydrogen sulfide, a gas that for most animals is lethal. He will study molly fish in the state of Tabasco in Southern Mexico, which has springs with high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide.
“We hope to make two contributions – one that helps us understand how organisms live in extreme environments, specifically sulfidic environments, and the other to understand how biodiversity on this planet evolved.” Tobler said.
Tobler, a native of Switzerland, became interested in molly fish as a graduate student at the University of Zurich. He hopes to gain a better understanding on the behavioral and genetic modifications that molly fish have undergone. He says the study may benefit many areas of science including the medical field.