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BMC Evol Biol. 2009 Feb 5;9:32. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-9-32.

Genetic analysis of hybridization and introgression between wild mongoose and brown lemurs.

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  • 1Anthropologisches Institut, Universität Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland. jenny@aim.uzh.ch

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Hybrid zones generally represent areas of secondary contact after speciation. The nature of the interaction between genes of individuals in a hybrid zone is of interest in the study of evolutionary processes. In this study, data from nuclear microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA sequences were used to genetically characterize hybridization between wild mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz) and brown lemurs (E. fulvus) at Anjamena in west Madagascar.

RESULTS:

Two segments of mtDNA have been sequenced and 12 microsatellite loci screened in 162 brown lemurs and mongoose lemurs. Among the mongoose lemur population at Anjamena, we identified two F1 hybrids (one also having the mtDNA haplotype of E. fulvus) and six other individuals with putative introgressed alleles in their genotype. Principal component analysis groups both hybrids as intermediate between E. mongoz and E. fulvus and admixture analyses revealed an admixed genotype for both animals. Paternity testing proved one F1 hybrid to be fertile. Of the eight brown lemurs genotyped, all have either putative introgressed microsatellite alleles and/or the mtDNA haplotype of E. mongoz.

CONCLUSION:

Introgression is bidirectional for the two species, with an indication that it is more frequent in brown lemurs than in mongoose lemurs. We conclude that this hybridization occurs because mongoose lemurs have expanded their range relatively recently. Introgressive hybridization may play an important role in the unique lemur radiation, as has already been shown in other rapidly evolving animals.

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