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Genetics. Apr 2000; 154(4): 1663–1679.
PMCID: PMC1461023

Dominance, epistasis and the genetics of postzygotic isolation.


The sterility and inviability of species hybrids can be explained by between-locus "Dobzhansky-Muller" incompatibilities: alleles that are fit on their "normal" genetic backgrounds sometimes lower fitness when brought together in hybrids. We present a model of two-locus incompatibilities that distinguishes among three types of hybrid interactions: those between heterozygous loci (H(0)), those between a heterozygous and a homozygous (or hemizygous) locus (H(1)), and those between homozygous loci (H(2)). We predict the relative fitnesses of hybrid genotypes by calculating the expected numbers of each type of incompatibility. We use this model to study Haldane's rule and the large effect of X chromosomes on postzygotic isolation. We show that the severity of H(0) vs. H(1) incompatibilities is key to understanding Haldane's rule, while the severity of H(1) vs. H(2) incompatibilities must also be considered to explain large X effects. Large X effects are not inevitable in backcross analyses but rather-like Haldane's rule-may often reflect the recessivity of alleles causing postzygotic isolation. We also consider incompatibilities involving the Y (or W) chromosome and maternal effects. Such incompatibilities are common in Drosophila species crosses, and their consequences in male- vs. female-heterogametic taxa may explain the pattern of exceptions to Haldane's rule.

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Selected References

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