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Ontogenetic divergence generates novel phenotypes in hybrid cichlids.

Authors
  • Santos-Santos, Javier H1, 2
  • Audenaert, Leen3
  • Verheyen, Erik3, 4
  • Adriaens, Dominique1
  • 1 Evolutionary Morphology of Vertebrates, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 2 Department of Biogeography and Global Change, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (MNCN-CSIC), Madrid, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 3 OD Taxonomy and Phylogeny, Vertebrates, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 4 Evolutionary Ecology Group, Biology Department, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium. , (Belgium)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of anatomy
Publication Date
May 01, 2021
Volume
238
Issue
5
Pages
1116–1127
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/joa.13375
PMID: 33417249
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Hybridization is suggested to contribute to ecomorphological and taxonomic diversity in lacustrine East African cichlids. This is supported by studies demonstrating that genetic diversity within lake radiations has been influenced by hybridization events, leading to extensive phenotypic differentiation of genetically closely related species. Hybrid persistence and speciation in sympatry with gene flow can be explained by pleiotropy in traits involved in reproductive isolation; however, little attention has been given to how trait differentiation is established during hybrid ontogeny, and how this may relate to trophic and locomotor specialization. This study compares body shape changes in a Lake Victoria cichlid hybrid throughout its post-hatch ontogeny to those of its parental species. Across the considered age/size categories, hybrids occupy a distinct and intermediate morphological space, yet where several transgressive traits emerge. A between-group principal component analysis on body shapes across size categories reveals axes of shape variation exclusive to the hybrids in the youngest/smallest size categories. Shape differences in the hybrids involved morphological traits known to be implicated in trophic and locomotor specializations in the parental species. Combined, our findings suggest that phenotypic divergence in the hybrid can lead to functional differences that may potentially release them to some degree from competition with the parental species. These findings agree with recent literature that addresses the potential importance of hybridization for the unusually recent origin of the Lake Victoria cichlid super-species flock. © 2021 Anatomical Society.

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