Evolution in action through hybridisation and polyploidy in an Iberian freshwater fish: a genetic review

Genetica. 2001;111(1-3):375-85. doi: 10.1023/a:1013783029921.


The Iberian minnow Leuciscus alburnoides represents a complex of diploid and polyploid forms with altered modes of reproduction. In the present paper, we review the recent data on the origin, reproductive modes, and inter-relationships of the various forms of the complex, in order to predict its evolutionary potential. The complex follows the hybrid-origin model suggested for most other asexual vertebrates. Diploid and triploid females from the southern river basins exhibit reproductive modes that cannot be conveniently placed into the categories generally recognised for these vertebrate complexes, which imply continuous shifting between forms, where genomes derived from both parental ancestors are cyclically lost, gained or replaced. Replacement of nuclear genomes allow the introduction of novel genetic material, that may compensate for the disadvantages of asexual reproduction. Contrasting with most other vertebrate complexes, L. alburnoides males are fertile and play an important role in the dynamics of the complex. Moreover, diploid hybrid males may have initiated a tetraploidization process, when a diploid clonal sperm fertilised a diploid egg. This direct route to tetraploidy by originating fish with the right constitution for normal meiosis (symmetric), may eventually lead to a new sexually reproducing polyploid species. This case-study reinforces the significance of hybridisation and polyploidy in evolution and diversification of vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyprinidae / genetics*
  • Cyprinidae / physiology
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Male
  • Polyploidy*
  • Reproduction