A complete understanding of the speciation process requires the identification of genomic regions and genes that confer reproductive barriers between species. Empirical and theoretical research has revealed two important patterns in the evolution of reproductive isolation in animals: isolation typically arises as a result of disrupted epistatic interactions between multiple loci and these disruptions map disproportionately to the X chromosome. These patterns suggest that a targeted examination of natural gene flow between closely related species at X-linked markers with known positions would provide insight into the genetic basis of speciation. We take advantage of the existence of genomic data and a well-documented European zone of hybridization between two species of house mice, Mus domesticus and M. musculus, to conduct such a survey. We evaluate patterns of introgression across the hybrid zone for 13 diagnostic X-linked loci with known chromosomal positions using a maximum likelihood model. Interlocus comparisons clearly identify one locus with reduced introgression across the center of the hybrid zone, pinpointing a candidate region for reproductive isolation. Results also reveal one locus with high frequencies of M. domesticus alleles in populations on the M. musculus side of the zone, suggesting the possibility that positive selection may act to drive the spread of alleles from one species on to the genomic background of the other species. Finally, cline width and cline center are strongly positively correlated across the X chromosome, indicating that gene flow of the X chromosome may be asymmetrical. This study highlights the utility of natural populations of hybrids for mapping speciation genes and suggests that the middle of the X chromosome may be important for reproductive isolation between species of house mice.
Vol. 58 • No. 9
Vol. 58 • No. 9