Rongfeng Cui (Ray)

Rongfeng Cui

Department of Biology
Texas A&M University 

3258 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843 

Tel: 979.845.3614 

email:rcui AT 

Curriculum Vitae (updated Mar. 2013)

Rongfeng Cui (崔融丰)

I grew up in Canton, China. I received my bachelor's degree in 2008 at the biology department of Sun Yat-sen University (中山大學). My bachelor's degree thesis was on taxonomy and morphometrics of gobies (Perciformes, Gobiidae) in south China.

My main research interests include animal communication, signal-receptor coevolution, prezygotic isolation mechanisms and sympatric speciation.

Current projects focus on the effect of early learning in female mate choice in X. malinche, historical hybridization in Xiphophorus and QTL mapping of olfactory preferences using admixed hybrids.

Cross-fostering experiments in cichlids had shown that early learning experience, especially olfaction, affected mate preference. Furthermore, assortative mating based on phenotypic discrimination may facilitate linkage disequilibrium between subgroups within the same population and may have implications in early sympatric speciation.

I found that X. malinche females avoided familiar olfactory phenotypes in mate choice, in direct contrast with their sister species X. birchmanni. Early learning also has different effects in the olfactory and the visual modalities.

Compared to other sensory modalities, olfactory receptors are presumably less constraint by natural selection due to high copy numbers and rapid duplication rates facilitated by retrotransposon elements, which allow evolution of private signaling channels. Previous studies in the swordtail system showed that females attend to water-soluble male olfactory cues during courtship, and they discriminate against heterospecific odors. Collaborating with the chemistry department at TAMU, we're we're trying to isolate and identify possible pheromones from the simulating water produced by the courting males combining behavioral trials, HPLC and mass spectrometry.

Collaborating with Clay Small, we're screening the swordtail transcriptome data for candidate olfactory receptors.

Using high-throughput RNA-seq methods, we found extensive historical hybridization in Xiphophorus, suggesting a porous pre-mating isolating mechanism in the genus. Certain species showed even admixture between parental lineages, potentially consistent with hybrid speciation.


Admixsimul is a c++ program in development for individual simulation of admixture process. Genomic structure, marker properties, genetic architecture as well as natural and sexual selection can be easily configured. It also contains the capabilities to export to Admixmap for mapping analyses.


Phonetica Latinae is a website for ecclesiatical and classical pronunciation of Latin with interactive audio playbacks.


  1. R. Cui, P.J. Delclos, M. Schumer and G.G. Rosenthal, in press. Early social learning triggers neurogenomic expression changes in a swordtail fish. Proc. Royal. Soc. London B: Biol. Sci.
  2. M. Schumer, R. Cui, D.L. Powell, G.G. Rosenthal, and P. Andolfatto, 2016. Ancient hybridization and genomic stabilization in a swordtail fish. Mol. Ecol. 25: 2661–2679 [PDF]
  3. R. Cui, M. Schumer, and G.G. Rosenthal, 2016. Admix’em: A flexible framework for forward-time simulations of hybrid populations with selection and mate choice. Bioinformatics 32: 1103-1105. [PDF]
  4. S.J. Ingley, M.R. Asl, C. Wu, R. Cui, M. Gadelhak, W. Li, J. Zhang, J. Simpson, C. Hash, T. Butkowski, T. Veen, J. B. Johnson, W. Yan and G.G. Rosenthal, 2015. anyFish 2.0: An open-source software platform to generate and share animated fish models to study behavior. SoftwareX. [PDF]
  5. M. Schumer, R. Cui, G.G. Rosenthal, and P. Andolfatto., 2016. simMSG: an experimental design tool for high-throughput genotyping of hybrids. Mol. Ecol. Resources 16: 183-192. [PDF]
  6. M. Schumer, R. Cui, G. G. Rosenthal, and P. Andolfatto , 2015. Reproductive isolation of hybrid populations driven by genetic incompatibilities. PLoS Genetics 11: e1005041.) [PDF]
  7. M. Schumer, R. Cui, D.L. Powell, R. Dresner, G.G. Rosenthal and P. Andolfatto , 2014. High-resolution mapping reveals hundreds of genetic incompatibilities in hybridizing fish species. eLife 2014:10.7554/eLife.02535. [PDF]
  8. T. Veen, S.J. Ingley, R. Cui, J. Simpson, M.R. Asl, J. Zhang, T. Butkowski, W. Li, C. Hash, J. B. Johnson, W. Yan and G.G. Rosenthal , 2013. anyFish: an open-source software to generate animated fish models for behavioural studies. Evolutionary Ecology Research 15:361-375 [PDF]
  9. R. Cui, Y. Pan, X. Yang and Y. Wang, 2013. A new barbeled goby from south China (Teleostei: Gobiidae). Zootaxa 3670(2):177-192
  10. R. Cui, M. Schumer, K. Kruesi, R. Walter, P. Andolfatto and G.G. Rosenthal, 2013. Phylogenomics reveals extensive reticulate evolution in Xiphophorus fishes. Evolution 67: 2166-2179. [PDF]
  11. M. Schumer, R. Cui, B. Boussau, R. Walter, G.G. Rosenthal and P. Andolfatto, 2013. An evaluation of the hybrid speciation hypothesis for Xiphophorus clemenciae based on whole genome sequences. Evolution 67: 1155-1168. [PDF]
  12. T. Butkowski, W. Yan, A.M. Gray, R. Cui, M.N. Verzijden and G.G. Rosenthal, 2011. Automated interactive video playback for studies of animal communication. J. Vis. Exp., e2374
  13. Y. Wang, J. Yang and R. Cui, 2010. A New Species of Goniurosaurus (Squamata: Eublepharidae) from Yingde, Guangdong Province, China. Herpetologica 66:229-240.