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Cytonuclear genetic architecture in mosquitofish populations and the possible roles of introgressive hybridization


Spatial genetic structure in populations of mosquitofish (Gambusia) sampled throughout the south‐eastern United States was characterized using mitochondrial (mt) DNA and allozyme markers. Both sets of data revealed a pronounced genetic discontinuity (along a broad path extending from south‐eastern Mississippi to north‐eastern Georgia) that corresponds to a recently recognized distinction between the nominal forms G. affinis to the west and G. holbrooki to the east. However, several populations from the general contact region exhibited unusual allelic associations in high frequency, suggestive of evolutionary processes within a zone of introgressive hybridization. These involve: (i) cytonuclear profiles representing combinations of nuclear and mitochondrial genotypes that tended to be more nearly species‐specific and concordant elsewhere; and (ii) significant nuclear gametic disequilibria, perhaps attributable to positive assortative mating and/or differential fitnesses of homospecific vs. recombinant genotypes. However, outside this suspected hybrid region, ‘heterospecific’ genetic markers also appeared in low frequency, thus complicating interpretations. These discordant alleles on a broader geographic scale may reflect: (a) the retention of polymorphisms from an ancestral gene pool; (b) occasional evolutionary convergence (especially with respect to electrophoretic mobility of allozyme alleles); (c) the ‘footprints’ of a moving hybrid zone; or (d) differential introgressive penetrance across the current hybrid region. Copyright © 1993, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

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