Deciphering the origin of mito-nuclear discordance in two sibling caddisfly species

Mol Ecol. 2017 Oct;26(20):5705-5715. doi: 10.1111/mec.14292. Epub 2017 Sep 5.


An increasing number of phylogenetic studies have reported discordances among nuclear and mitochondrial markers. These discrepancies are highly relevant to widely used biodiversity assessment approaches, such as DNA barcoding, that rely almost exclusively on mitochondrial markers. Although the theoretical causes of mito-nuclear discordances are well understood, it is often extremely challenging to determine the principal underlying factor in a given study system. In this study, we uncovered significant mito-nuclear discordances in a pair of sibling caddisfly species. Application of genome sequencing, ddRAD and DNA barcoding revealed ongoing hybridization, as well as historical hybridization in Pleistocene refugia, leading us to identify introgression as the ultimate cause of the observed discordance pattern. Our novel genomic data, the discovery of a European-wide hybrid zone and the availability of established techniques for laboratory breeding make this species pair an ideal model system for studying species boundaries with ongoing gene flow.

Keywords: freshwater; genome divergence; population genetics; speciation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Europe
  • Gene Flow
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genome, Insect
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Insecta / classification*
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Genetic Markers

Associated data

  • GENBANK/SRR5367914
  • GENBANK/SRR5378821
  • GENBANK/SRR5379058
  • GENBANK/NCQO00000000