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Impacts of hybrid breakdown on the production of the red pigment astaxanthin in the intertidal copepod Tigriopus californicus


Natural selection favors the co-evolution of the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. Hybridization of genetically divergent populations forces an interaction between mitochondrial and nuclear genes that have not co-evolved. When genes segregate in the F2 generation, incompatible combinations can result in reduced mitochondrial performance and a general breakdown of fitness. Previous studies have suggested that carotenoid pigment production is tied to mitochondrial performance; this project aims to assess the impacts of hybridization (and consequent mitochondrial dysfunction) on the production of the carotenoid pigment astaxanthin in the rock pool copepod Tigriopus californicus, a species where breakdown of hybrid fitness and mitochondrial function is well documented. Here, we measured astaxanthin production in hybrid copepods alongside their parental populations and found no conclusive evidence that pigmentation is a condition dependent signal of mitochondrial function.

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