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Genetics. Jun 1999; 152(2): 713–727.
PMCID: PMC1460641

Hybrid zones and the genetic architecture of a barrier to gene flow between two sunflower species.


Genetic analyses of reproductive barriers represent one of the few methods by which theories of speciation can be tested. However, genetic study is often restricted to model organisms that have short generation times and are easily propagated in the laboratory. Replicate hybrid zones with a diversity of recombinant genotypes of varying age offer increased resolution for genetic mapping experiments and expand the pool of organisms amenable to genetic study. Using 88 markers distributed across 17 chromosomes, we analyze the introgression of chromosomal segments of Helianthus petiolaris into H. annuus in three natural hybrid zones. Introgression was significantly reduced relative to neutral expectations for 26 chromosomal segments, suggesting that each segment contains one or more factors that contribute to isolation. Pollen sterility is significantly associated with 16 of these 26 segments, providing a straightforward explanation of why this subset of blocks is disadvantageous in hybrids. In addition, comparison of rates of introgression across colinear vs. rearranged chromosomes indicates that close to 50% of the barrier to introgression is due to chromosomal rearrangements. These results demonstrate the utility of hybrid zones for identifying factors contributing to isolation and verify the prediction of increased resolution relative to controlled crosses.

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Selected References

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