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Sci Rep. 2019 Apr 12;9(1):5989. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-42354-z.

Intergeneric hybrids inform reproductive isolating barriers in the Antarctic icefish radiation.

Author information

1
Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, 97403, USA. desvignes@uoneuro.uoregon.edu.
2
Division des collections vivantes et de la recherche, Biodôme de Montréal/Espace pour la vie, 4777, Ave Pierre-De Coubertin, Montréal, QC, H1V 1B3, Canada. nle_francois@ville.montreal.qc.ca.
3
Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Marine Science Center, Northeastern University, Nahant, MA, 01908, USA.
4
Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, 97403, USA.
5
Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Marine Science Center, Northeastern University, Nahant, MA, 01908, USA. w.detrich@northeastern.edu.

Abstract

Interspecific hybridization or barriers to hybridization may have contributed to the diversification of Antarctic icefishes (Channichthyidae), but data supporting these hypotheses is scarce. To understand the potential for hybridization and to investigate reproductive isolating mechanisms among icefish species, we performed in vitro fertilization experiments using eggs from a female blackfin icefish Chaenocephalus aceratus and sperm from a male of another genera, the ocellated icefish Chionodraco rastrospinosus. Sequencing of genomic and mitochondrial DNA confirmed the intergeneric hybrid nature of resulting embryos which successfully developed and hatched as active larvae at about four and a half months during the Antarctic winter. This result demonstrates the compatibility of gametes of these two species and the viability of resulting zygotes and larvae. Due to logistic constraints and the slow developmental rate of icefishes, we could not test for long-term hybrid viability, fertility, fitness, or hybrid breakdown. Analysis of our fishing records and available literature, however, suggests that the strongest barriers to hybridization among parapatric icefish species are likely to be behavioral and characterized by assortative mating and species-specific courtship and nesting behaviors. This conclusion suggests that, in long-lived fish species with late sexual maturity and high energetic investment in reproduction like icefishes, pre-mating barriers are energetically more efficient than post-mating barriers to prevent hybridization.

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