[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hybrid zones generally represent areas of secondary contact after speciation. The nature of the interaction between genes of individuals in a hybrid zone is of interest in the study of evolutionary processes. In this study, data from nuclear microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA sequences were used to genetically characterize hybridization between wild mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz) and brown lemurs (E. fulvus) at Anjamena in west Madagascar.
Two segments of mtDNA have been sequenced and 12 microsatellite loci screened in 162 brown lemurs and mongoose lemurs. Among the mongoose lemur population at Anjamena, we identified two F1 hybrids (one also having the mtDNA haplotype of E. fulvus) and six other individuals with putative introgressed alleles in their genotype. Principal component analysis groups both hybrids as intermediate between E. mongoz and E. fulvus and admixture analyses revealed an admixed genotype for both animals. Paternity testing proved one F1 hybrid to be fertile. Of the eight brown lemurs genotyped, all have either putative introgressed microsatellite alleles and/or the mtDNA haplotype of E. mongoz.
Introgression is bidirectional for the two species, with an indication that it is more frequent in brown lemurs than in mongoose lemurs. We conclude that this hybridization occurs because mongoose lemurs have expanded their range relatively recently. Introgressive hybridization may play an important role in the unique lemur radiation, as has already been shown in other rapidly evolving animals.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The MC1R (melanocortin-1 receptor) locus underlies intraspecific variation in melanin-based dark plumage coloration in several unrelated birds with plumage polymorphisms. There is far less evidence for functional variants of MC1R being involved in interspecific variation, in which spurious genotype-phenotype associations arising through population history are a far greater problem than in intraspecific studies. We investigated the relationship between MC1R variation and plumage coloration in swans (Cygnus), which show extreme variation in melanic plumage phenotypes among species (white to black).
The two species with melanic plumage, C. atratus and C. melanocoryphus (black and black-necked swans respectively), both have amino acid changes at important functional sites in MC1R that are consistent with increased MC1R activity and melanism. Reconstruction of MC1R evolution over a newly generated independent molecular phylogeny of Cygnus and related genera shows that these putative melanizing mutations were independently derived in the two melanic lineages. However, interpretation is complicated by the fact that one of the outgroup genera, Coscoroba, also has a putative melanizing mutation at MC1R that has arisen independently but has nearly pure white plumage. Epistasis at other loci seems the most likely explanation for this discrepancy. Unexpectedly, the phylogeny shows that the genus Cygnus may not be monophyletic, with C. melanocoryphus placed as a sister group to true geese (Anser), but further data will be needed to confirm this.
Our study highlights the difficulty of extrapolating from intraspecific studies to understand the genetic basis of interspecific adaptive phenotypic evolution, even with a gene whose structure-function relationships are as well understood as MC1R as confounding variation make clear genotype/phenotype associations difficult at the macroevolutionary scale. However, the identification of substitutions in the black and black-necked swan that are known to be associated with melanic phenotypes, suggests Cygnus may be another example where there appears to be convergent evolution at MC1R. This study therefore provides a novel example where previously described intraspecific genotype/phenotype associations occur at the macroevolutionary level.