Analysis of ancestry heterozygosity suggests that hybrid incompatibilities in threespine stickleback are environment dependent

Ken A. Thompson, Catherine L. Peichel, Diana J. Rennison, Matthew D. McGee, Arianne Y.K. Albert, Timothy H. Vines, Anna K. Greenwood, Abigail R. Wark, Yaniv Brandvain, Molly Schumer, Dolph Schluter

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Hybrid incompatibilities occur when interactions between opposite ancestry alleles at different loci reduce the fitness of hybrids. Most work on incompatibilities has focused on those that are "intrinsic," meaning they affect viability and sterility in the laboratory. Theory predicts that ecological selection can also underlie hybrid incompatibilities, but tests of this hypothesis using sequence data are scarce. In this article, we compiled genetic data for F2 hybrid crosses between divergent populations of threespine stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) that were born and raised in either the field (seminatural experimental ponds) or the laboratory (aquaria). Because selection against incompatibilities results in elevated ancestry heterozygosity, we tested the prediction that ancestry heterozygosity will be higher in pond-raised fish compared to those raised in aquaria. We found that ancestry heterozygosity was elevated by approximately 3% in crosses raised in ponds compared to those raised in aquaria. Additional analyses support a phenotypic basis for incompatibility and suggest that environment-specific single-locus heterozygote advantage is not the cause of selection on ancestry heterozygosity. Our study provides evidence that, in stickleback, a coarse-albeit indirect-signal of environment-dependent hybrid incompatibility is reliably detectable and suggests that extrinsic incompatibilities can evolve before intrinsic incompatibilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e3001469
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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