Crossing experiments revealed that a diploid hybridogenetic fish (genus Poeciliopsis) from the Río Mocorito (Sinaloa, Mexico) is trihybrid. Its haploid maternal genome is inherited clonally (i.e., hemiclonally), and it expresses a mixture of morphological traits found in the closely related species P. monacha and P. viriosa. Its haploid paternal genome is replaced in each generation by mating with males of a more distantly related sexual species, P. lucida. However, expression of mixed (monacha × viriosa) traits by this hemiclone is also consistent with retention of shared ancestral polymorphisms. If true, this hemiclonal lineage would be one of the few examples of an ancient asexual taxon. We used mitochondrial DNA and allozymes to test whether the maternal progenitor of the Mocorito hybridogen was a recent P. monacha × P. viriosa hybrid or a remnant of their most recent common ancestor. Our results clearly link the hemiclonal genome to contemporary P. monacha and therefore support the hypothesis of a recent origin. Additionally, our findings suggest that this unisexual fish may serve as a vehicle for introgression between two allopatric sexual species.
Corresponding Editor: S. Karl