Universität Konstanz

Meyer Lab

Dr. Francesca Raffini

Universitätsstraße 10

78464 Konstanz



Dr. Francesca Raffini

Dr. Francesca Raffini

Dr. Francesca Raffini


Postdoctoral Researcher



Main Focus

Genetic and environmental basis underlying the bilateral asymmetry in scale-eating cichlids
One of the most interesting questions in evolutionary biology is to explain the unusual evolution of left-right asymmetry in some species. This diversion from the “norm” of symmetrical animals is an extreme case of adaptive evolution. The scale-eating cichlid fish Perissodus microlepis from Lake Tanganiyka (Africa) is a remarkable example of asymmetric mouths that are either left-bending or right-bending. This morphological asymmetry results in its lateralized foraging behaviour, where a left-bending morph preferentially feeds on the scales of the right side of its victim fish and a right-bending morph bites the scales of the left side. This striking dimorphism made this fish a textbook example of the astonishing degree of ecological specialization and negative frequency-dependent selection. Nevertheless, the genomic basis and developmental mechanisms that determine this notable morphological and behavioural laterality remain entirely unclear. During my PhD, I will investigate the genetic and environmental (such as plasticity or individual feeding behaviour) basis underlying the bilateral asymmetry observed in this fish. This PhD project will result in relevant contributions in understanding the bases and the long-term maintenance of left-right asymmetry in animals.

Curriculum Vitae

  • 2018 Post-doc in Evolutionary Biology, Research Group of Prof. Axel Meyer / MPI for Ornithology, University of Konstanz, Germany
  • 2014-2018 PhD student in Evolutionary Biology, Research Group of Prof. Axel Meyer, University of Konstanz, Germany
  • 2013 Invited speaker at the University of Pavia, Italy, Earth and Environmental Sciences PhD Course Seminar 
  • 2011-2012 Scientific diving activities 
  • 2010-2012 Master of Science degree in Biodiversity and Evolution (Cum Laude), concentration in Molecular Ecology (Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Italy)
  • 2007-2010 Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences, concentration in Molecular Biology (Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Italy)

Organizational Unit (Department, Group, Facility):

  • IMPRS Alumni
  • University of Konstanz
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