Recombination and introgression of nuclear and chloroplast genomes between the peat mosses, Sphagnum capillifolium and Sphagnum quinquefarium

Mol Ecol. 2007 Feb;16(4):811-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.03163.x.


Haploid hybrid gametophytes are often present at low frequencies in sympatric populations of Sphagnum capillifolium and Sphagnum quinquefarium. We used intersimple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers and polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism of the trnL(UAA) intron of the chloroplast genome to reveal the nuclear and chloroplast composition of mature hybrid gametophytes from natural populations and of gametophytes derived from spores of hybrid sporophytes collected in nature. Asymmetrical nuclear inheritance was found in the progeny of the hybrid sporophytes, indicating that only spores with a low level of recombination of parental genomes were viable. A similarly skewed nuclear composition was found among the naturally occurring hybrid gametophytes. All hybrid genomes contained a larger proportion of S. capillifolium ISSR markers, combined with only two to five S. quinquefarium markers together with a chloroplast haplotype derived from S. quinquefarium. In this way, a pattern resembling introgression is created within a single generation. Some individuals possessed nuclear genomes typical for S. capillifolium in combination with the chloroplast haplotype of S. quinquefarium, possibly indicating backcrossing. Our results indicate that hybridization between S. capillifolium and S. quinquefarium is relatively common, but the resistance of large parts of the genome against heterospecific genes maintains the genetic distinctness of the species. Further evolutionary and phylogenetic consequences of restricted interspecific gene exchange are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • DNA Fingerprinting
  • DNA, Chloroplast / genetics
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Introns / genetics
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Minisatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Species Specificity
  • Sphagnopsida / genetics*
  • Spores / growth & development
  • Sweden


  • DNA, Chloroplast