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Am Nat. 2006 Jul;168(1):114-20. Epub 2006 May 19.

Placental invasiveness mediates the evolution of hybrid inviability in mammals.

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1
Behavioural Ecology Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada. micke@sfu.ca

Abstract

A central question in evolutionary biology is why animal lineages differ strikingly in rates and patterns of the evolution of reproductive isolation. Here, we show that the maximum genetic distance at which interspecific mammalian pregnancies yield viable neonates is significantly greater in clades with invasive (hemochorial) placentation than in clades with noninvasive (epitheliochorial or endotheliochorial) placentation. Moreover, sister species with invasive placentation exhibit higher allopatry in their geographic ranges, suggesting that formerly separated populations in mammals with this placental type fuse more readily on recontact. These differences are apparently driven by the stronger downregulation of maternal immune responses under invasive placentation, where fetal antigens directly contact the maternal bloodstream. Our results suggest that placental invasiveness mediates a major component of reproductive isolation in mammals.

PMID:
16874618
DOI:
10.1086/505162
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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