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Heredity (Edinb). 2011 Jan;106(1):100-12. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2010.70. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

The evolutionary history of the allopolyploid Squalius alburnoides (Cyprinidae) complex in the northern Iberian Peninsula.

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  • 1Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa, Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.


Understanding the population structure, population dynamics and processes that give rise to polyploidy and helps to maintain it is central to our knowledge of the evolution of asexual vertebrates. Previous studies revealed high genetic diversity and several reproductive pathways in the southern populations of the Squalius alburnoides hybrid complex. In contrast, lower genetic variability and the associated limited chance of introducing new genetic combinations may threaten the survival of the northern Mondego populations. We analysed the genetic diversity and structure of nine populations of S. alburnoides in the Iberian Peninsula using microsatellite loci to provide further insights on the evolutionary history of this complex. Special attention was given to the less-studied northern populations (Mondego and Douro basins). Marked population structure, a high frequency of private alleles and a high diversity of some biotypes in the Douro basin indicate that some northern populations may not be at high risk of extinction, contrary to what was expected. The genetic diversity found in the northern Douro populations contradicts the general trend of remarkable genetic impoverishment northwards that occurs in other species and regions. The results indicate the possible existence of a glacial refugium in the Rabaçal River, corroborating findings in other species of this region. Historical events seem to have affected the geographical patterns of genetic variability found among and within the northern and southern populations of this complex and contributed to different patterns of genome composition. Therefore, historical events might have a major role in the long-term persistence of some polyploid hybrid taxa.

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