Long-term Experimental Hybridisation Results in the Evolution of a New Sex Chromosome in Swordtail Fish




Franchini, Paolo
Jones, Julia C.
Xiong, Peiwen
Kneitz, Susanne
Gompert, Zachariah
Warren, Wesley C.
Walter, Ronald B.
Meyer, Axel
Schartl, Manfred

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Nature Research


The remarkable diversity of sex determination mechanisms known in fish may be fuelled by exceptionally high rates of sex chromosome turnovers or transitions. However, the evolutionary causes and genomic mechanisms underlying this variation and instability are yet to be understood. Here we report on an over 30-year evolutionary experiment in which we tested the genomic consequences of hybridisation and selection between two Xiphophorus fish species with different sex chromosome systems. We find that introgression and imposing selection for pigmentation phenotypes results in the retention of an unexpectedly large maternally derived genomic region. During the hybridisation process, the sex-determining region of the X chromosome from one parental species was translocated to an autosome in the hybrids leading to the evolution of a new sex chromosome. Our results highlight the complexity of factors contributing to patterns observed in hybrid genomes, and we experimentally demonstrate that hybridisation can catalyze rapid evolution of a new sex chromosome.



hybridisation, sex chromosomes, swordtail fish, xiphophorus fish species, Chemistry and Biochemistry


Franchini, P., Jones, J. C., Xiong, P., Kneitz, S., Gompert, Z., Warren, W. C., Walter, R. B., Meyer, A., & Schartl, M. (2018). Long-term experimental hybridisation results in the evolution of a new sex chromosome in swordtail fish. Nature Communications, 9(1), 5136.


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