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Heredity (Edinb). 2009 Aug;103(2):146-56. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2009.37. Epub 2009 Apr 22.

Evolutionary implications of discordant clines across the Baltic Mytilus hybrid zone (Mytilus edulis and Mytilus trossulus).

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Unit of Evolutionary Biology/Systematic Zoology, Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.


It is well established that reproductive isolation often arises from genome incompatibilities and that genes encoding reproductive traits are less prone to introgression. Hybrid zones of Mytilus trossulus and Mytilus edulis provide an intriguing model to assess reproductive isolation. Although gene flow is restricted in North America, introgression is pervasive in the Baltic. This study aimed at analyzing the shape of multilocus clines across the Baltic contact zone between M. edulis and M. trossulus to infer mechanisms of restriction to gene flow. We use maximum likelihood methods to construct the best fitting individual clines for five markers located on biparentally inherited autosomes and paternally and maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Strong cline shape differences among markers suggest that reproductive isolation arising from genome-wide incompatibilities is weak, and that these discrepancies possibly result from genetic drift, hybrid zone movement or marker-specific selection. However, the finding of a common cline center for M7 lysin (involved in fertilization) and paternally transmitted mtDNA (causing nuclear-mitochondrial incompatibilities in hybrids) suggest that these loci may play a role in incomplete reproductive isolation.

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