Bernd Egger

Universität Basel,
Zoologisches Institut
Vesalgasse 1
CH-4051 Basel


+41 (0)61 207 03 05

+41 (0)61 207 03 01


Bernd Egger

PostDoc in the group of Walter Salzburger.

Current research

Egg spots - a complex etho-morphological trait The majority of East African cichlid species are members of a single tribe, the Haplochromini, comprising most riverine East African cichlid species and the species flocks of Lakes Malawi and Victoria. An important feature shared by haplochromines is their special breeding behaviour, in the form of maternal mouthbrooding with females incubating the eggs in their buccal cavities. Mouthbrooding evolved several times during cichlid evolution, but only haplochromines show a characteristic polygynous or polygynandrous maternal mouthbrooding system with males carrying conspicuous egg-spots on the anal fin. These yellow to orange egg-like spots have an important function in the courtship and spawning behaviour of haplochromines, as they serve as intraspecific sexual advertisement to attract females and to maximize breeding success. The number, arrangement and morphology of haplochromine egg-spots differ between species (and to some degree also within species) and some haplochromines even lack egg-spots entirely, either due to their ancestral phylogenetic branching or because they lost their dummies secondarily.
I’m applying behavioural experiments and molecular techniques in order to investigate the evolutionary significance and developmental basis of egg-spots.

Curriculum vitae

2009- Postdoctoral fellow with Walter Salzburger at the Zoological Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland.
2008-2009 Research officer (Post-Doc position) for Prof. George Turner at the Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK.
2008 Research associate (Post-Doc position) at the Department of Zoology, University of Graz.
2004-2007 Research associate (PhD position) at the Department of Zoology, University of Graz PhD thesis: ‘The role of sexual selection and habitat instabilities in the evolution of intraspecific colour variation in the cichlid genus Tropheus from Lake Tanganyika’ (Supervisors: Kristina M. Sefc, Christian Sturmbauer).
2002-2003 Civil service at the Institute for Blood Transfusion, Clinic Innsbruck, DNA laboratory.
1993-2002 Studies in Biology at the University of Innsbruck, Institute of Zoology.


  • Egger, B., Kläfiger, Y., Theis, A., Salzburger, W. 2011. A sensory bias has triggered the evolution of egg-spots in cichlid fishes. Plos One, Volume 6, Issue 10.
  • Svensson, O., Egger, B., Gricar, B., Woodhouse, K., van Oosterhout, C., Salzburger, W., Seehausen, O., Turner, G.F. 2011. Segregation of Species-Specific Male Attractiveness in F2 Hybrid Lake Malawi Cichlid Fish. International Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 2011.
  • Egger B, Mattersdorfer K, Sefc KM. 2009. Variable discrimination and asymmetric preferences in laboratory tests of reproductive isolation between cichlid colour morphs. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, in press.
  • Koblmüller S, Egger B, Sturmbauer C, Sefc KM. 2009. Rapid radiation, ancient incomplete lineage sorting and ancient hybridization in the endemic Lake Tanganyika cichlid tribe Tropheini. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, in press.
  • Egger B, Obermüller B, Eigner E, Sturmbauer C, Sefc KM. 2008. Assortative mating between allopatric colour morphs of the endemic Lake Tanganyika cichlid species Tropheus moorii. Hydrobiologia 615: 37-48
  • Egger B, Koblmüller S, Sturmbauer C, Sefc KM. 2007. Nuclear and mitochondrial data reveal different evolutionary processes in the Lake Tanganyika cichlid genus Tropheus. BMC Evolutionary Biology 7: 137.
  • Koblmüller S, Egger B, Sturmbauer C, Sefc KM. 2007. Evolutionary history of Lake Tanganyika’s scale-eating cichlids, the tribe Perissodini. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44(3): 1295-305.
  • Koblmüller S, Duftner N, Sefc KM, Aibara M, Stipacek M, Blanc M, Egger B, Sturmbauer C. 2007. Reticulate phylogeny of gastropod-shell-breeding cichlids from Lake Tanganyika - the result of repeated introgressive hybridization. BMC Evolutionary Biology 7: 7.
  • Egger B, Obermüller B, Sturmbauer C, Phiri H, Sefc KM. 2006. Monogamy in the maternally mouthbrooding Lake Tanganyika cichlid fish Tropheus moorii. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 273: 1797-1802.
  • Gassner C, Doescher A, Dovc Drnovsek T, Rozman P, Eicher NI, Legler TJ, Lukin S, Garritsen H, Kleinrath T, Egger B, Ehling R, Körmöczi GF, Kilga-Nogler S, Schoenitzer D, Petershofen EK. 2005. Presence of RHD in serologically D–, C/E+ individuals: a European multicenter study. Transfusion 45: 527-538.
  • Egger B, Meekan M, Salzburger W, Mwape L, Makasa L, Shapola R, Sturmbauer C. 2004. Validation of the periodicity of increment formation in the otoliths of a cichlid fish from Lake Tanganyika, East Afrika. Journal of Fish Biology 64: 1272-1284.