What causes partial F1 hybrid viability? Incomplete penetrance versus genetic variation.


We used amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) to test for segregation distortion in one hybrid cross between green and longear sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus and L. megalotis). Hybrids showed partial viability, and twice as much segregation distortion (36.8%) of AFLPs as an intraspecific control cross (18.8%). Incomplete penetrance of DMIs, which should cause genotype-independent mortality, is insufficient to explain the observed segregation distortion.

Interspecific hybrid crosses often produce offspring with reduced but non-zero survivorship. In this paper we ask why such partial inviability occurs. This partial inviability could arise from incomplete penetrance of lethal Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities (DMIs) shared by all members of a hybrid cross. Alternatively, siblings may differ with respect to the presence or number of DMIs, leading to genotype-dependent variation in viability and hence non-Mendelian segregation of parental alleles in surviving F1 hybrids.

We conclude that F1 hybrid sunfish are polymorphic for DMIs, either due to sex-linked DMI loci (causing Haldane's Rule), or polymorphic autosomal DMI loci. Because few AFLP markers were sex-linked (2%), the most parsimonious conclusion is that parents may have been heterozygous for loci causing hybrid inviability.

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