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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-561

Vorburger, C; Reyer, H U (2003). A genetic mechanism of species replacement in European waterfrogs? Conservation Genetics, 4(2):141-155.

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Introduced Rana ridibunda currentlyreplace the native waterfrogs R. lessonaeand R. esculenta in several areas ofcentral Europe. The unusual reproductive systemin waterfrogs of the Rana esculentacomplex suggests that this replacement may bedriven by a genetic mechanism: Ranaesculenta, a hybrid between R. ridibundaand R. lessonae, eliminates the lessonae genome from the germline and clonallytransmits the ridibunda genome(hybridogenesis). Hybrids form mixedpopulations with R. lessonae (L-E-system)in which they persist by backcrossing with theparental species. Matings between hybrids areunsuccessful, because their ridibundagenomes contain fixed recessive deleteriousmutations. When introduced into a L-E-system,R. ridibunda can mate with both nativetaxa, producing R. ridibunda offspringwith R. esculenta, and R. esculentaoffspring with R. lessonae (primaryhybridizations). If primary hybrids arehybridogenetic, they produce viable R.ridibunda offspring in matings with otherhybrids, because their clonal genomes areunlikely to share the deleterious allelespresent in the ancient clones. Thus, R.ridibunda will increase in the population atthe expense of both native taxa, eventuallyleaving a pure R. ridibunda population.We provide three lines of evidence for thisprocess from a currently invaded population inSwitzerland: (1) Primary hybridizations takeplace, as roughly 10% of hybrids in thepopulation possess ridibunda genomesderived from the introduced frogs. (2)Hybridogenesis occurs in primary hybrids,although at a low frequency. (3) Many hybrid ×hybrid matings in the population indeed produceviable offspring. Hence, the proposed geneticmechanism appears to contribute to the speciesreplacement, although its importance may belimited.


29 citations in Web of Science®
31 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:14
Publisher DOI:10.1023/A:1023346824722

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