A strong foundation of basic and applied research documents that the estuarine fish Fundulus heteroclitus and related species are unique laboratory and field models for understanding how individuals and populations interact with their environment. In this paper we summarize an extensive body of work examining the adaptive responses of Fundulus species to environmental conditions, and describe how this research has contributed importantly to our understanding of physiology, gene regulation, toxicology, and ecological and evolutionary genetics of teleosts and other vertebrates. These explorations have reached a critical juncture at which advancement is hindered by the lack of genomic resources for these species. We suggest that a more complete genomics toolbox for F. heteroclitus and related species will permit researchers to exploit the power of this model organism to rapidly advance our understanding of fundamental biological and pathological mechanisms among vertebrates, as well as ecological strategies and evolutionary processes common to all living organisms.
Keywords: Fundulus heteroclitus, physiological genomics, ecological genomics, evolutionary genomics, toxicogenomics, environmental genomics