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Evolution. 2012 Apr;66(4):1180-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01514.x. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Genetic variation for postzygotic reproductive isolation between Caenorhabditis briggsae and Caenorhabditis sp. 9.

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Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto,Toronto, ON, Canada.


The process of speciation is key to the origins of biodiversity, and yet the Caenorhabditis nematode model system has contributed little to this topic. Genetic studies of speciation in the genus are now feasible, owing to crosses between the recently discovered Caenorhabditis sp. 9 and the well-known C. briggsae producing fertile F(1) hybrid females. We dissected patterns of postzygotic reproductive isolation between these species by crossing eight isogenic strains of C. briggsae reciprocally with six strains of C. sp. 9. We determined that overall patterns of reproductive isolation are robust across these genetic backgrounds. However, we also quantified significant heritable variation within each species for interspecific hybrid incompatibilities for total adult progeny, egg-to-adult viability, and the percentage of male progeny. This demonstrates that intraspecific variation for interspecific hybrid incompatibility occurs despite extensive, albeit incomplete, reproductive isolation. Therefore, this emerging general phenomenon of variable reproductive isolation is not restricted to highly interfertile, early-stage incipient species, but also applies to species in the latest stages of the speciation process. Furthermore, we confirm Haldane's rule and demonstrate strongly asymmetric parent-of-origin effects (Darwin's corollary) that consistently manifest more extremely when hermaphroditic C. briggsae serves as maternal parent. These findings highlight Caenorhabditis as an emerging system for understanding the genetics of general patterns of reproductive isolation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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