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Absence of postzygotic isolating mechanisms: Evidence from experimental hybridization between two species of tropical sea urchins

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-06, 03:26 authored by M A Rahman, T Uehara, A Arshad, F M Yusoff, M N Shamsudin
Two reef margin species of tropical sea urchins, Echinometra sp. C (Ec) and Echinometra oblonga (Eo), occur sympatrically on Okinawa intertidal reefs in southern Japan. Hybridization between these species was examined through a series of cross-fertilization experiments. At limited sperm concentrations, where conspecific crosses reached near 100% fertilization, both heterospecific crosses showed high fertilization rates (81%-85%). The compatibility of the gametes demonstrated that if gamete recognition molecules are involved in fertilization of these species, they are not strongly species-specific. We found that conspecific crosses reached peak fertilization levels much faster than did heterospecific crosses, indicating the presence of a prezygotic barrier to hybridization in the gametes. Larval survival, metamorphosis, and juvenile and adult survival of hybrid groups were nearly identical to those of their parent species. Hybrids from crosses in both directions developed normally through larval stages to sexually mature adults, indicating that neither gametic incompatibility nor hybrid inviability appeared to maintain reproductive isolation between these species. In adults, Ec×Ec crosses gave the highest live weight, followed by Eo (ova)×Ec (sperm), Ec (ova)×Eo (sperm), and Eo×Eo. Other growth performance measures (viz., test size, Aristotle's lantern length, and gonad index) of hybrid groups and their parental siblings showed the same trends. The phenotypic color patterns of the hybrids were closer to the maternal coloration, whereas spine length, tube-foot and gonad spicule characteristics, pedicellaria valve length, and gamete sizes showed intermediate features. Adult F1 hybrids were completely fertile and displayed high fertilization success in F1 backcrosses, eliminating the likelihood that hybrid sterility is a postzygotic mechanism of reproductive isolation. Conversely, intensive surveys failed to find hybrid individuals in the field, suggesting the lack or rarity of natural hybridization. This strongly suggests that reproductive isolation is achieved by prezygotic isolating mechanism(s). Of these mechanisms, habitat segregation, gamete competition, differences in spawning times, gametic incompatibility or other genetic and non-genetic factors appear to be important in maintaining the integrity of these species. © Zhejiang University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012.

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Journal

Journal of Zhejiang University: Science B

Volume

13

Pagination

797 - 810

ISSN

1673-1581

eISSN

1862-1783

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