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Mol Biol Evol. 2006 Oct;23(10):1952-65. Epub 2006 Jul 19.

Geographic variation and positive selection on M7 lysin, an acrosomal sperm protein in mussels (Mytilus spp.).

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Department of Biology, Duke University, USA.


Successful fertilization in free-spawning marine organisms depends on the interactions between genes expressed on the surfaces of eggs and sperm. Positive selection frequently characterizes the molecular evolution of such genes, raising the possibility that some common deterministic process drives the evolution of gamete recognition genes and may even be important for understanding the evolution of prezygotic isolation and speciation in the marine realm. One hypothesis is that gamete recognition genes are subject to selection for prezygotic isolation, namely, reinforcement. In a previous study, positive selection on the gene coding for the acrosomal sperm protein M7 lysin was demonstrated among allopatric populations of mussels in the Mytilus edulis species group (M. edulis, Mytilus galloprovincialis, and Mytilus trossulus). Here, we expand sampling to include M7 lysin haplotypes from populations where mussel species are sympatric and hybridize to determine whether there is a pattern of reproductive character displacement (RCD), which would be consistent with reinforcement driving selection on this gene. We do not detect a strong pattern of RCD; neither are there unique haplotypes in sympatry nor is there consistently greater population structure in comparisons involving sympatric populations. One distinct group of haplotypes, however, is strongly affected by natural selection, and this group of haplotypes is found within M. galloprovincialis populations throughout the Northern Hemisphere concurrent with haplotypes common to M. galloprovincialis and M. edulis. We suggest that balancing selection, perhaps resulting from sexual conflicts between sperm and eggs, maintains old allelic diversity within M. galloprovincialis.

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