The genomics of speciation: investigating the molecular correlates of X chromosome introgression across the hybrid zone between Mus domesticus and Mus musculus
Understanding the genetic details of reproductive isolation is a key goal in the study of speciation. Hybrid zones, geographical regions where two species meet and exchange genes, can provide insight into the genetic basis of reproductive isolation. This is especially true in species with mapped molecular markers because patterns of gene flow can be compared among different genomic regions. Even greater insight can be obtained in species with complete genome sequences because gene identity, gene number and other features of interest can be assessed for genomic regions with different patterns of introgression. Here, we review recent studies on the well-characterized hybrid zone between Mus domesticus and M. musculus, including a detailed survey of patterns of introgression for 13 markers on the X chromosome. We then compare levels of introgression for these 13 regions to a number of genomic attributes inferred from the complete sequence of the X chromosome, with two purposes. First, we identify candidate genes for reproductive isolation by finding genes that map to an X-linked region of reduced introgression and that are only expressed in the male germ line or that show high rates of protein evolution in comparison with rat. Second, we ask whether patterns of gene flow are correlated with recombination rate, gene density, base composition, CpG island density, mutation rate and the rate of protein evolution, as might be expected if many genes contribute to reproductive isolation. We identify seven candidate genes for reproductive isolation between M. domesticus and M. musculus, and our analyses reveal no general correlations between levels of introgression and other measured sequence characteristics. These results underline the utility of the house mouse as a model system for the study of speciation. © 2005 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2005, 84, 523–534.