How do species barriers decay? Concordance and local introgression in mosaic hybrid zones of mussels

J Evol Biol. 2021 Jan;34(1):208-223. doi: 10.1111/jeb.13709. Epub 2020 Oct 18.


The Mytilus complex of marine mussel species forms a mosaic of hybrid zones, found across temperate regions of the globe. This allows us to study 'replicated' instances of secondary contact between closely related species. Previous work on this complex has shown that local introgression is both widespread and highly heterogeneous, and has identified SNPs that are outliers of differentiation between lineages. Here, we developed an ancestry-informative panel of such SNPs. We then compared their frequencies in newly sampled populations, including samples from within the hybrid zones, and parental populations at different distances from the contact. Results show that close to the hybrid zones, some outlier loci are near to fixation for the heterospecific allele, suggesting enhanced local introgression, or the local sweep of a shared ancestral allele. Conversely, genomic cline analyses, treating local parental populations as the reference, reveal a globally high concordance among loci, albeit with a few signals of asymmetric introgression. Enhanced local introgression at specific loci is consistent with the early transfer of adaptive variants after contact, possibly including asymmetric bi-stable variants (Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities), or haplotypes loaded with fewer deleterious mutations. Having escaped one barrier, however, these variants can be trapped or delayed at the next barrier, confining the introgression locally. These results shed light on the decay of species barriers during phases of contact.

Keywords: Mytilus; genomic clines; hybrid zones; local introgression; secondary contact.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Introgression*
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Mytilus / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.r4xgxd29n