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Variation in hybrid gene expression: Implications for the evolution of genetic incompatibilities in interbreeding species.

ABSTRACT: Interbreeding species often produce low-fitness hybrids due to genetic incompatibilities between parental genomes. Whether these incompatibilities reflect fixed allelic differences between hybridizing species, or, alternatively, standing variants that segregate within them, remains unknown for many natural systems. Yet, evaluating these alternatives is important for understanding the origins and nature of species boundaries. We examined these alternatives using spadefoot toads (genus Spea), which naturally hybridize. Specifically, we contrasted patterns of gene expression in hybrids relative to pure-species types in experimentally produced tadpoles from allopatric parents versus those from sympatric parents. We evaluated the prediction that segregating variation should result in gene expression differences between hybrids derived from sympatric parents versus hybrids derived from allopatric parents, and found that 24% of the transcriptome showed such differences. Our results further suggest that gene expression in hybrids has evolved in sympatry owing to evolutionary pressures associated with ongoing hybridization. Although we did not measure hybrid incompatibilities directly, we discuss the implications of our findings for understanding the nature of hybrid incompatibilities, how they might vary across populations over time, and the resulting effects on the evolutionary maintenance - or breakdown - of reproductive barriers between species.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC6819235 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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