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J Evol Biol. 2012 Feb;25(2):252-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02438.x. Epub 2011 Dec 22.

Physiological implications of genomic state in parthenogenetic lizards of reciprocal hybrid origin.

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Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.


Parthenogenesis often evolves in association with hybridization, but the associated ecological consequences are poorly understood. The Australian gecko Heteronotia binoei is unusual because triploid parthenogenesis evolved through reciprocal crosses between two sexual lineages, resulting in four possible cytonuclear genotypes. In this species complex, we compared the performance of these parthenogenetic genotypes with their sexual progenitors for a suite of physiological traits (metabolic rate, thermal tolerance, locomotor performance, and in vitro activity and gene sequence divergence of a cytonuclear metabolic pathway, cytochrome C oxidase). Mass-specific metabolic rate scaled differently with body mass for parthenogens and sexuals, while heat tolerance provided the only evidence for cytonuclear incompatibility in hybrid parthenogens. The most prominent phenotypic effects were attributable to nuclear genome dosage. Overall, our results suggest that the hybrid/polyploidy origin of parthenogenetic H. binoei has had surprisingly few negative fitness consequences and may have produced a broader overall niche for the species.

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