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Seeking signatures of reinforcement at the genetic level: a hitchhiking mapping and candidate gene approach in the house mouse

Smadja C., Loire E., Caminade P., Thoma M., Latour Y., Roux C., Thoss M., Penn D.J., Ganem G., Boursot P.. 2015. Molecular Ecology, 24 (16) : p. 4222-4237.

Reinforcement is the process by which prezygotic isolation is strengthened as a response to selection against hybridization. Most empirical support for reinforcement comes from the observation of its possible phenotypic signature: an accentuated degree of prezygotic isolation in the hybrid zone as compared to allopatry. Here, we implemented a novel approach to this question by seeking for the signature of reinforcement at the genetic level. In the house mouse, selection against hybrids and enhanced olfactory-based assortative mate preferences are observed in a hybrid zone between the two European subspecies Mus musculus musculus and M. m. domesticus, suggesting a possible recent reinforcement event. To test for the genetic signature of reinforcing selection and identify genes involved in sexual isolation, we adopted a hitchhiking mapping approach targeting genomic regions containing candidate genes for assortative mating in mice. We densely scanned these genomic regions in hybrid zone and allopatric samples using a large number of fast evolving microsatellite loci that allow the detection of recent selection events. We found a handful of loci showing the expected pattern of significant reduction in variability in populations close to the hybrid zone, showing assortative odour preference in mate choice experiments as compared to populations further away and displaying no such preference. These loci lie close to genes that we pinpoint as testable candidates for further investigation.

Thématique : Génétique et amélioration des animaux

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