Introgression and selection shaped the evolutionary history of sympatric sister-species of coral reef fishes (genus: Haemulon)

Moises Bernal De Leon, Michelle R. Gaither, W. Brian Simison, Luiz A. Rocha

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21 Scopus citations


Closely related marine species with large overlapping ranges provide opportunities to study mechanisms of speciation, particularly when there is evidence of gene flow between such lineages. Here, we focus on a case of hybridization between the sympatric sister-species Haemulon maculicauda and H. flaviguttatum, using Sanger sequencing of mitochondrial and nuclear loci, as well as 2422 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) obtained via restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RADSeq). Mitochondrial markers revealed a shared haplotype for COI and low divergence for CytB and CR between the sister-species. On the other hand, complete lineage sorting was observed at the nuclear loci and most of the SNPs. Under neutral expectations, the smaller effective population size of mtDNA should lead to fixation of mutations faster than nDNA. Thus, these results suggest that hybridization in the recent past (0.174-0.263Ma) led to introgression of the mtDNA, with little effect on the nuclear genome. Analyses of the SNP data revealed 28 loci potentially under divergent selection between the two species. The combination of mtDNA introgression and limited nuclear DNA introgression provides a mechanism for the evolution of independent lineages despite recurrent hybridization events. This study adds to the growing body of research that exemplifies how genetic divergence can be maintained in the presence of gene flow between closely related species.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-652
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 25 2016


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