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Mol Ecol. 2011 Jun;20(11):2403-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05106.x. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

Reinforcement selection acting on the European house mouse hybrid zone.

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  • 1Department of Population Biology, Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Brno, Czech Republic.


Behavioural isolation may lead to complete speciation when partial postzygotic isolation acts in the presence of divergent-specific mate-recognition systems. These conditions exist where Mus musculus musculus and M. m. domesticus come into contact and hybridize. We studied two mate-recognition signal systems, based on urinary and salivary proteins, across a Central European portion of the mouse hybrid zone. Introgression of the genomic regions responsible for these signals: the major urinary proteins (MUPs) and androgen binding proteins (ABPs), respectively, was compared to introgression at loci assumed to be nearly neutral and those under selection against hybridization. The preference of individuals taken from across the zone regarding these signals was measured in Y mazes, and we develop a model for the analysis of the transition of such traits under reinforcement selection. The strongest assortative preferences were found in males for urine and females for ABP. Clinal analyses confirm nearly neutral introgression of an Abp locus and two loci closely linked to the Abp gene cluster, whereas two markers flanking the Mup gene region reveal unexpected introgression. Geographic change in the preference traits matches our reinforcement selection model significantly better than standard cline models. Our study confirms that behavioural barriers are important components of reproductive isolation between the house mouse subspecies.

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