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Incomplete reproductive isolation and strong transcriptomic signature of hybridization between sympatric sister species of salmon McKenzie, Jessica



Global change is altering ecosystems at an unprecedented rate. The resulting shifts in species ranges and reproductive timing are opening the potential for hybridization between closely-related species which could dramatically alter the genetic diversity, adaptive capacity, and evolutionary trajectory of interbreeding taxa. Here, we used behavioural breeding experiments, in vitro fertilization experiments, and whole-transcriptome gene expression data to assess the potential for and consequences of hybridization between Chinook and Coho salmon. We show that behavioural and gametic prezygotic barriers between socioeconomically valuable Chinook and Coho salmon are incomplete. Postzygotically, we demonstrate a clear transcriptomic response to hybridization among F1 Chinook-Coho offspring. Genes transgressively expressed within hybrids were significantly enriched with genes encoded in the nucleus but localized to the mitochindrion, suggesting a potential role for mito-nuclear incompatibilities as a postzygotic mechanism of hybrid breakdown. Chinook and Coho salmon are expected to continue to respond to climate change with shifts in migration timing and habitat use, potentiating hybridization between these species. The downstream consequences of hybridization on the future of these threatened salmon, and the ecosystems they inhabit, is unknown.

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