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Heredity (Edinb). 2013 Nov;111(5):391-401. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2013.61. Epub 2013 Jul 17.

Postzygotic isolation involves strong mitochondrial and sex-specific effects in Tigriopus californicus, a species lacking heteromorphic sex chromosomes.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Detailed studies of the genetics of speciation have focused on a few model systems, particularly Drosophila. The copepod Tigriopus californicus offers an alternative that differs from standard animal models in that it lacks heteromorphic chromosomes (instead, sex determination is polygenic) and has reduced opportunities for sexual conflict, because females mate only once. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping was conducted on reciprocal F2 hybrids between two strongly differentiated populations, using a saturated linkage map spanning all 12 autosomes and the mitochondrion. By comparing sexes, a possible sex ratio distorter was found but no sex chromosomes. Although studies of standard models often find an excess of hybrid male sterility factors, we found no QTL for sterility and multiple QTL for hybrid viability (indicated by non-Mendelian adult ratios) and other characters. Viability problems were found to be stronger in males, but the usual explanations for weaker hybrid males (sex chromosomes, sensitivity of spermatogenesis, sexual selection) cannot fully account for these male viability problems. Instead, higher metabolic rates may amplify deleterious effects in males. Although many studies of standard speciation models find the strongest genetic incompatibilities to be nuclear-nuclear (specifically X chromosome-autosome), we found the strongest deleterious interaction in this system was mito-nuclear. Consistent with the snowball theory of incompatibility accumulation, we found that trigenic interactions in this highly divergent cross were substantially more frequent (>6×) than digenic interactions. This alternative system thus allows important comparisons to studies of the genetics of reproductive isolation in more standard model systems.

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