Cyanotilapia afra ‘cobue’

Researchers in the Streelman lab use the cichlid fish model to address fundamental questions in ecology, evolution, behavior and development. Presently, we’ve become fascinated by biological ‘switches’ that activate context-dependent processes. Switches are interesting because they are not constant, and are likely to reveal unexplored rules not evident during homeostasis. Examples of biological switches under study include:

  1. Stem-cell driven, periodic tooth regeneration.
  2. Co-evolutionary, co-developmental dynamics between teeth and taste buds.
  3. Early specification of the forebrain vs. eye field from the neural plate.
  4. Social behaviors (e.g., aggression, bower building, courtship) paired with context-dependent brain
    gene expression.


Larval Metriaclima zebra cichlid embryo stained for the expression of the gene pitx2

To carry out our research, we raise cichlids from Lake Malawi at Georgia Tech. We invent automated assays to quantify behavior, we sequence genomes and transcriptomes, and we collaborate with computational scientists, engineers and colleagues working in zebrafish, mouse and human. Members of the lab are inquisitive, keen to learn new things by working together, compelled by mechanism and comparative approaches, and motivated to learn from falsified hypotheses.

To learn more about our work, please read these recent representative publications:

We are recruiting! Prospective postdocs and graduate students can contact Professor Streelman ( to learn more about opportunities in the lab!