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Genetics. 1984 Sep; 108(1): 237–255.
PMCID: PMC1202397

Hybridization and Introgression among Species of Sunfish (Lepomis): Analysis by Mitochondrial DNA and Allozyme Markers


We explore the potential of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, alone and in conjunction with allozymes, to study low-frequency hybridization and introgression phenomena in natural populations. MtDNAs from small samples of nine species of sunfish (Lepomis, Centrarchidae) were purified and digested with each of 13 informative restriction enzymes. Digestion profiles for all species were highly distinct: estimates of overall fragment homology between pairs of species ranged from 0–36%. Allozymes encoded by nine nuclear genes also showed large frequency differences among species and together with mtDNA provided many genetic markers for hybrid identification. A genetic analysis of 277 sunfish from two locations in north Georgia revealed the following: (1) a low frequency of interspecific hybrids, all of which appeared to be F1's; (2) the involvement of five sympatric Lepomis species in the production of these hybrids; (3) no evidence for introgression between species in our study locales (although for rare hybridization, most later-generation backcrosses would not be reliably distinguished from parentals); (4) a tendency for hybridizations to take place preferentially between parental species differing greatly in abundance; (5) a tendency for the rare species in a hybrid cross to provide the female parent. Our data suggest that absence of conspecific pairing partners and mating stimuli for females of rarer species may be important factors in increasing the likelihood of interspecific hybridization. The maternal inheritance of mtDNA offers at least two novel advantages for hybridization analysis: (1) an opportunity to determine direction in hybrid crosses; and (2) due to the linkage among mtDNA markers, an increased potential to distinguish effects of introgression from symplesiomorphy or character convergence.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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