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Does divergence from normal patterns of integration increase as chromosomal fusions increase in number? A test on a house mouse hybrid zone

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Chromosomal evolution is widely considered an important driver of speciation because it can promote the establishment of reproductive barriers. Karyotypic reorganization is also expected to affect the mean phenotype, as well as its development and patterns of phenotypic integration, through processes such as variation in genetic linkage between QTL regions or between regulatory regions and their targets. Here we explore the relationship between chromosomal evolution and phenotypic integration by analysing a well-known house mouse parapatric contact zone between a highly derived Robertsonian race (2n = 22) and populations with standard karyotype (2n = 40). Populations with hybrid karyotypes are scattered throughout the hybrid zone connecting the two parental races. Using mandible shape data and geometric morphometrics, we test the hypothesis that patterns of integration progressively diverge from the “normal” integration pattern observed in the standard race as they accumulate Robertsonian fusions. We find that the main pattern of integration observed between the posterior and anterior part of the mandible can be largely attributed to allometry. We find no support for a gradual increase in divergence from normal patterns of integration as fusions accumulate. Surprisingly, however, we find that the derived Robertsonian race (2n = 22) has a distinct allometric trajectory compared to the standard race. Our results suggest that either individual fusions disproportionately affect patterns of integration or that there are mechanisms which “purge” extreme variants in hybrids (e.g., reduced fitness of hybrid shape).
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Zoology
Early online date11 Jul 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 11 Jul 2020


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