Increased divergence but reduced variation on the Z chromosome relative to autosomes in Ficedula flycatchers: differential introgression or the faster-Z effect?

Ecol Evol. 2012 Feb;2(2):379-96. doi: 10.1002/ece3.92.


Recent multilocus studies of congeneric birds have shown a pattern of elevated interspecific divergence on the Z chromosome compared to the autosomes. In contrast, intraspecifically, birds exhibit less polymorphism on the Z chromosome relative to the autosomes. We show that the four black-and-white Ficedula flycatcher species show greater genetic divergence on the Z chromosome than on the autosomes, and that the ratios of intraspecific polymorphism at Z-linked versus autosomal markers are below the neutral expectation of 75%. In all species pairs, we found more fixed substitutions and fewer shared polymorphisms on the Z chromosome than on the autosomes. Finally, using isolation with migration (IMa) models we estimated gene flow among the four closely related flycatcher species. The results suggest that different pattern of evolution of Z chromosomes and autosomes is best explained by the faster-Z hypothesis, since the estimated long-term gene flow parameters were close to zero in all comparisons.

Keywords: Allopatry; Z chromosome polymorphism; congeneric birds; faster-Z hypothesis; nuclear introns.