The sorry state of F2 hybrids: consequences of rapid mitochondrial DNA evolution in allopatric populations

Am Nat. 2006 Dec;168 Suppl 6:S14-24. doi: 10.1086/509046.


Through the processes of natural selection and genetic drift, allopatric populations diverge genetically and may ultimately become reproductively incompatible. In cases of prezygotic reproductive isolation, candidate systems for speciation genes logically include genes involved in mate or gamete recognition. However, where only postzygotic isolation exists, candidate speciation genes could include any genes that affect hybrid performance. We hypothesize that because mitochondrial genes frequently evolve more rapidly than the nuclear genes with which they interact, interpopulation hybridization might be particularly disruptive to mitochondrial function. Understanding the potential impact of intergenomic (nuclear and mitochondrial) coadaptation on the evolution of allopatric populations of the intertidal copepod Tigriopus californicus has required a broadly integrative research program; here we present the results of experiments spanning the spectrum of biological organization in order to demonstrate the consequences of molecular evolution on physiological performance and organismal fitness. We suggest that disruption of mitochondrial function, known to result in a diverse set of human diseases, may frequently underlie reduced fitness in interpopulation and interspecies hybrids in animals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Copepoda / genetics*
  • Copepoda / growth & development
  • Copepoda / physiology
  • Cytochromes c / genetics
  • Cytochromes c / metabolism
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / genetics
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Cytochromes c
  • Electron Transport Complex IV