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J Hered. 2007 Mar-Apr;98(2):115-22. Epub 2007 Jan 5.

Searching the genomes of inbred mouse strains for incompatibilities that reproductively isolate their wild relatives.

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Laboratory of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Identification of the genes that underlie reproductive isolation provides important insights into the process of speciation. According to the Dobzhansky-Muller model, these genes suffer disrupted interactions in hybrids due to independent divergence in separate populations. In hybrid populations, natural selection acts to remove the deleterious heterospecific combinations that cause these functional disruptions. When selection is strong, this process can maintain multilocus associations, primarily between conspecific alleles, providing a signature that can be used to locate incompatibilities. We applied this logic to populations of house mice that were formed by hybridization involving two species that show partial reproductive isolation, Mus domesticus and Mus musculus. Using molecular markers likely to be informative about species ancestry, we scanned the genomes of 1) classical inbred strains and 2) recombinant inbred lines for pairs of loci that showed extreme linkage disequilibria. By using the same set of markers, we identified a list of locus pairs that displayed similar patterns in both scans. These genomic regions may contain genes that contribute to reproductive isolation between M. domesticus and M. musculus. This hypothesis can now be tested using laboratory crosses and surveys of introgression in the wild.

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