Masato Yoshizawa

Masato Yoshizawa

Associate Professor

I am interested in the evolutionary mechanisms that generate novel "adaptive" function in animals.



LSB 222


(808) 956-6682


(808) 956-4745

Academic Degrees

Ph.D., Pathology and Tumor Biology

Research Interests

I am interested in the evolutionary mechanisms that generate novel "adaptive" function in animals. I am currently using the Mexican tetra cavefish, as a model system to resolve the relationship among genome, developmental changes, morphological/physiological shifts, behavioral adaptation and ecology. My team uses a combination of the Next-Gen sequencing of genome and microbiota, fluorescent imaging, live calcium imaging, neuro-tracing, hybrid analyses (genetics), epigenetics and computer-aided behavioral analyses to resolve the dynamics of how animals acquire novel neural functions. Our recent findings have made us involved in the evolution of laterality, and the biomedical studies in autism-like symptom.

Selected Publications

Ma L, Ng M, van der Weele CM, Yoshizawa M, Jeffery WR. Dual roles of the retinal pigment epithelium and lens in cavefish eye degeneration. J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol. 2020 Jan 12;. doi: 10.1002/jez.b.22923. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31930686.

Simon N, Fujita S, Porter M, Yoshizawa M. Expression of extraocular opsin genes and light-dependent basal activity of blind cavefish. PeerJ. 2019;7:e8148. doi: 10.7717/peerj.8148. eCollection 2019. PubMed PMID: 31871836; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6924323.

Worsham M, Fernandes VFL, Settle A, Balaan C, Lactaoen K, Tuttle LJ, Iwashita M, Yoshizawa M. Behavioral Tracking and Neuromast Imaging of Mexican Cavefish. J Vis Exp. 2019 Apr 6;(146). doi: 10.3791/59099. PubMed PMID: 31009008; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6692174.

Herman A, Brandvain Y, Weagley J, Jeffery WR, Keene AC, Kono TJY, Bilandžija H, Borowsky R, Espinasa L, O'Quin K, Ornelas-García CP, Yoshizawa M, Carlson B, Maldonado E, Gross JB, Cartwright RA, Rohner N, Warren WC, McGaugh SE. The role of gene flow in rapid and repeated evolution of cave-related traits in Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus. Mol Ecol. 2018 Sep 25. doi: 10.1111/mec.14877.

Yoshizawa, M, Settle, A, Hermosura, MC, Tuttle, LJ*, Cetraro, N*, Passow, CN and McGaugh, SE. The Evolution of a Series of Behavioral Traits is Associated with Autism-Risk Genes in Cavefish. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 2018; 18(1):89.

Fernandes VFL*, Macaspac C*, Lu L* and Yoshizawa M. Evolution of the Developmental Plasticity and a Coupling Between Left Mechanosensory Neuromasts and an Adaptive Foraging Behavior. Dev Biol. 2018; 441(2):262-271.

Ma L, Strickler AG, Parkhurst A, Yoshizawa M, Shi J, Jeffery WR. Maternal genetic effects in Astyanax cavefish development. Dev Biol. 2018; 441(2):209-220.

Yoshizawa, M, Hixon, E, and Jeffery, WR. Neural Crest Transplantation Reveals Roles in Cavefish Development. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 2018; 58(3):411-420.

Jaggard, J, Robinson, BG*, Stahl, BA, Oh, I*, Masek, P, Yoshizawa, M and Keene, AC (2017). The lateral line confers evolutionarily derived sleep loss in the Mexican cavefish. J. Exp. Biol. 220: 284–293. 

Yoshizawa, M. (2016). The evolution of sensory adaptation in Astyanax mexicanus. Pp. 247–263 in A. C. Keene, M. Yoshizawa, and S. E. McGauch, eds. Biology and Evolution of the Mexican Cavefish. Elsevier Inc., Amsterdam.

Yoshizawa, M. (2015). Behaviors of cavefish offer insight into developmental evolution. Melecular Reprod. Dev. 82: 268-280.

Yoshizawa, M., Robinson, B. G., Duboué, E. R., Masek, P., Jaggard, J. B., O’Quin, K. E., Borowsky, R. L., Jeffery, W. R. and Keene, A. C. (2015). Distinct genetic architecture underlies the emergence of sleep loss and prey-seeking behavior in the Mexican cavefish. BMC Biol. 13: 15.

McGaugh, S.E., Gross, J.B., Aken, B., Blin, M., Borowsky, R., Chalopin, D., Hinaux, H., Jeffery, W.R., Keene, A., Ma, L., Minx, P., Murphy, D., O’Quin, K.E., Rétaux, S., Rohner, N., Searle, S.M.J., Stahl, B.A., Tabin, C., Volff, J.-N., Yoshizawa, M., Warren, W.C. (2014) The cavefish genome reveals candidate genes for eye loss. Nat. Commun.  5:5307.

Yoshizawa, M., Jeffery, W.R., van Netten, S.M., and McHenry, M.J. (2014). The sensitivity of lateral line receptors and their role in the behavior of Mexican blind cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus). J. Exp. Biol. 217: 886-895.

Rohner, N., Jarosz, D.F., Kowalko, J., Yoshizawa, M., Jeffery, W.R., Borowsky, R.L., Lindquist, S., and Tabin, C.J. (2013). Cryptic variation in morphological evolution: HSP90 as a capacitor for the loss of eyes in cavefish.  Science 342: 1372-1375 (Featured in News & Analysis section of Science: Pennisi, E. (2013). Cavefish study supports controversial evolutionary mechanism. Science 342: 1304.)

Kowalko, J.E., Rohner, N., Linden, T.A., Rompani, S.B., Warren, W.C., Borowsky, R., Tabin, C.J., Jeffery, W.R., Yoshizawa, M. (2013b). Convergence in feeding posture occurs through different genetic loci in independently evolved cave populations of Astyanax mexicanus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110: 16933-16938.

Yoshizawa, M.*, O’Quin, K. E., Jeffery, W. R. (2013a). QTL clustering as a mechanism for rapid multi-trait evolution. Commun. Integr. Biol. 6: e24548 (comment on a conflict between Fisher’s cost of complexity and abundant QTL clustering).

Yoshizawa, M.*, Yamamoto, Y., O’Quin, K. E., Jeffery, W. R. (2012b). Evolution of an adaptive behavior and its sensory receptors facilitates eye regression in blind cavefish. BMC Biol. 10: 108. [Commented in Gunter, H., Meyer, A. (2013) Trade-offs in cavefish sensory capacity. BMC Biol. 11:5].

Yoshizawa, M.*, Ashida, G., Jeffery, W. R. (2012a). Parental genetic effects in a cavefish adaptive behavior explain disparity between nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Evolution 66: 2975–2982.

Yoshizawa, M.*, Jeffery, W. R. (2011). Evolutionary tuning of an adaptive behavior requires enhancement of the neuromast sensory system. Commun. Integr. Biol. 4: 89-91.

Yoshizawa, M.*, Gorički, Š., Soares, D., Jeffery, W. R. (2010) Evolution of a behavioral shift mediated by superficial neuromasts helps cavefish find food in darkness.  Curr. Biol. 20: 1631-1636. 

Yoshizawa, M., Kawauchi, T., Sone, M., Terao, M., Nabeshima, Y. –i. and Hoshino, M. (2005). Involvement of a Rac activator, P-Rex1, in neurotrophin-derived signaling and neuronal migration.  J. Neurosci. 25: 4406-4419.