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Asymmetric second-generation genomic incompatibility in interspecific crosses between Ciona robusta and Ciona intestinalis

By Naoyuki Ohta, Nicole Kaplan, James Tyler Ng, Basile Jules Gravez, Lionel Christiaen

Posted 05 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.04.976837

Reproductive isolation is central to speciation, but interspecific crosses between two closely related species can produce viable and fertile hybrids. Two different species in the tunicate genus Ciona , Ciona robusta and Ciona intestinalis can produce hybrids. However, wild sympatric populations display limited gene flow, suggesting the existence of obstacles to interspecific reproduction that remain unknown. Here, we took advantage of a closed inland culture system to cross C. robusta with C. intestinalis and established F1 and F2 hybrids. We monitored post-embryonic development, survival, and sexual maturation to further probe the physiological mechanisms underlying reproductive isolation. Partial viability of first and second generation hybrids indicated that both pre- and postzygotic mechanisms contributed to genomic incompatibilities in hybrids. Asymmetrical second generation inviability and infertility suggested that interspecific genomic incompatibilities involved interactions between the maternal, zygotic and mitochondrial genomes during development. This study paves the way to quantitative genetic approaches to study the mechanisms underlying genomic incompatibilities and other complex traits in the genome-enabled Ciona model.

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