Genetics of Mate Choice: From Sexual Selection to Sexual Isolation

Volume 9 of the series Contemporary Issues in Genetics and Evolution pp 329-342

Patterns of inheritance of mating signals in interspecific hybrids between sailfin and shortfin mollies (Poeciliidae: Poecilia: Mollienesia)

  • Margaret B. PtacekAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Clemson University

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Differences in male morphology and mating behaviors are thought to confer species sexual isolation between sailfin and shortfin species of mollies. This study used interspecific crosses between the sailfin molly, P. latipinna, and the shortfin molly, P. mexicana, to investigate patterns of inheritance of morphological traits and behavioral rates of three mating behaviors in F1 hybrid males. The two parental species showed clear species differences with respect to the length of the dorsal fin and dorsal fin ray number. First generation hybrid males were intermediate between the two parental species for dorsal fin length and fin ray number, suggesting autosomal control of this trait with little effect of dominance by genes from either parental species. Parental species showed clear species differences in their rates of courtship displays. Unlike the pattern for dorsal fin morphology, F1 hybrid males showed a clear distinction in display rates with respect to the direction of the interspecific cross. Male hybrids whose sires were P. latipinna had courtship display rates that were up to three times higher than the rates of displays performed by hybrid males whose fathers were P. mexicana. The distribution of phenotypes between the parental species and that of hybrid males sired by that parental species was nearly identical. Such a pattern suggests the influence of Y-linked genes on the inheritance of courtship display rates in mollies.

Key words

interspecific hybrids mating signals Poecilia latipinna Poecilia mexicana premating reproductive isolation