, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 253-263

Cytonuclear genetic signatures of hybridization phenomena: Rationale, utility, and empirical examples from fishes and other aquatic animals

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Abstract

By definition, organisms of hybrid ancestry carry amalgamations of divergent genomes. Thus, exaggerated effects of genomic interactions might be anticipated in hybrid populations, thereby magnifying the impact of natural selection and making this and other evolutionary forces easier to document. Mating biases and other gender-based asymmetries also frequently characterize hybrid populations. Thus, maternally inherited cytoplasmic polymorphisms assayed jointly with those at biparentally inherited nuclear loci provide powerful genetic markers to dissect ethological, ecological, and evolutionary processes in hybrid settings. Population-level topics that can be addressed using cytonuclear markers include the frequency of hybridization and introgression in nature, behavioral and ecological factors (such as mating preferences and hybrid fitnesses) influencing the genetic architectures of hybrid zones, the degree of consistency in genetic outcomes across multiple hybrid contact regions, and environmental impacts (including the introduction of alien species) on hybridization processes. Several empirical studies on fish populations in hybrid settings illustrate the application of cytonuclear appraisals in such contexts.