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Journal Article


Department of Biology




Systematic characterization of ẖybrid incompatibility (HI) between related species remains the key to understanding speciation. The genetic basis of HI has been intensively studied in Drosophila species, but remains largely unknown in other species, including nematodes, which is mainly due to the lack of a sister species with which C. elegans can mate and produce viable progeny. The recent discovery of a C. briggsae sister species, C. nigoni, has opened up the possibility of dissecting the genetic basis of HI in nematode species. However, the paucity of dominant and visible marker prevents the efficient mapping of HI loci between the two species. To elucidate the genetic basis of speciation in nematode species, we first generated 96 chromosomally integrated GFP markers in the C. briggsae genome and mapped them into the defined locations by PCR and Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS). Aided by the marker, we backcrossed the GFP-associated C. briggsae genomic fragments into C. nigoni for at least 15 generations and produced 111 independent introgressions. The introgression fragments cover most of the C. briggsae genome. We finally dissected the patterns of HI by scoring the embryonic lethality, larval arrest, sex ratio and male sterility for each introgression line, through which we identified pervasive HI loci and produced a genome-wide landscape of HI between the two nematode species, the first of its type for any non-Drosophila species. The HI data not only provided insights into the genetic basis of speciation, but also established a framework for the possible cloning of HI loci between the two nematode species. Furthermore, the data on hybrids confirmed Haldane’s rule and suggested the presence of a large X effect in terms of fertility between the two species. Importantly, this work opens a new avenue for studying speciation genetics between nematode species and allows parallel comparison of the HI with that in Drosophila and other species.

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PLoS Genetics





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Public Library of Science

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© 2015 Bi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


This work was supported by Early Career Scheme Fund of Hong Kong RGC. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.



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