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Chromosomal rearrangements and gene flow over time in an inter-specific hybrid zone of the Sorex araneus group.
Most hybrid zones have existed for hundreds or thousands of years but have generally been observed for only a short time period. Studies extending over periods long enough to track evolutionary changes in the zones or assess the ultimate outcome of hybridization are scarce. Here, we describe the evolution over time of the level of genetic isolation between two karyotypically different species of shrews (Sorex araneus and Sorex antinorii) at a hybrid zone located in the Swiss Alps. We first evaluated hybrid zone movement by contrasting patterns of gene flow and changes in cline parameters (centre and width) using 24 microsatellite loci, between two periods separated by 10 years apart. Additionally, we tested the role of chromosomal rearrangements on gene flow by analysing microsatellite loci located on both rearranged and common chromosomes to both species. We did not detect any movement of the hybrid zone during the period analysed, suggesting that the zone is a typical tension zone. However, the gene flow was significantly lower among the rearranged than the common chromosomes for the second period, whereas the difference was only marginally significant for the first period. This further supports the role of chromosomal rearrangements on gene flow between these taxa.
Animals, Chromosome Aberrations, Chromosomes, Mammalian/genetics, Gene Flow, Microsatellite Repeats, Shrews/genetics, Species Specificity, Time Factors
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