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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2007 Nov;45(2):564-75. Epub 2007 Jun 30.

Cytonuclear discordance across a leopard frog contact zone.

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San Francisco State University, Department of Biology, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA.


We conducted a genetic analysis of the extent of hybridization within and outside a contact zone between two North American leopard frogs, Rana blairi and Rana pipiens by comparing distribution patterns of mitochondrial and nuclear haplotypes. The contact zone, located between South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa, USA, was previously examined using morphological data in the 1970s, leading to the conclusion that hybridization was rare between R. pipiens and R. blairi. Our genetic analysis of 51 populations (611 samples) shows strong cytonuclear discordance. Mitochondrial-haplotype distribution matches the same pattern as the documented species spatial distributions based on morphology. However, the geographic distribution of the nuclear haplotypes reveals asymmetrical swamping of the R. pipiens nuclear haplotypes by R. blairi haplotypes. Phylogenetic analyses of both mitochondrial and nuclear markers provide strong evidence for the presence of R. blairi-R. pipiens introgression for the nuclear marker. A pattern of mitochondrial isolation with nuclear introgression is extremely unusual, and predicted to occur much less often than the reverse.

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