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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2011 Nov;61(2):381-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.07.006. Epub 2011 Jul 21.

Evidence of hybridization in the Argentinean lizards Liolaemus gracilis and Liolaemus bibronii (IGUANIA: LIOLAEMINI): an integrative approach based on genes and morphology.

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Centro Nacional Patagónico, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Boulevard Almirante Brown 2915, ZC: U9120ACF, Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina.


The lizard genus Liolaemus is endemic to temperate South America and includes more than 225 species. Liolaemus gracilis and L. bibronii are closely related species that have large and overlapping geographic distributions, and the objective of this work is to further investigate the L. bibronii-L. gracilis mtDNA paraphyletic pattern previously detected, using an integrative approach, based on mtDNA, nuclear DNA and morphological characters. We identified eight morphological L. bibronii introgressed with L. gracilis mtDNAs, and the reciprocal for one L. gracilis, from six localities in the region of sympatry overlap. The morphological identity of these introgressed individuals was confirmed by diagnostic nuclear markers, and this represents the first well-documented case of interspecific hybridization in the lizard genus Liolaemus. Of the three most likely hypotheses for these observed patterns, we suggest that asymmetrical mtDNA introgression as a result of recent or ongoing hybridization between L. bibronii and L. gracilis is the most likely. This may be due to size selection by L. gracilis female preference for the larger L. bibroni males in sympatry, but this requires experimental confirmation.

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