Bidirectional mitochondrial introgression between Korean cobitid fish mediated by hybridogenetic hybrids

Ye Seul Kwan, Myeong Hun Ko, Yeon Seon Jeon, Hyo Jin Kim, Yong Jin Won

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15 Scopus citations


Genomic introgression through interspecific hybridization has been observed in some species of the freshwater fish family Cobitidae. Within this family, a Cobitis hankugensis–Iksookimia longicorpa diploid–triploid hybrid species complex on the Korean peninsula is unique in displaying hybridogenesis, a unisexual reproduction mode that allows hybrids to mediate the transfer of mitochondrial DNA (but not nuclear DNA) between the two parent species. However, populations of the parental species in the wild have never been examined for the potential effect of introgression on their genomes. To address the genetic consequences of unisexual hybridization on the parental species, we examined genetic structure of the two parental species, C. hankugensis and I. longicorpa, in three independent natural habitats where they coexist with their hybrid complex using DNA sequence data of one mitochondrial gene and three nuclear genes. We found that mitochondrial introgression between the two species was extensive in all the examined localities, while there was no evidence of nuclear introgression across the species boundary. This result indicates that the hybridogenetic individuals mediate mitochondrial introgression from one species to the other, producing mito-nuclear mosaic genomes such as C. hankugensis nuclear genomes associated with I. longicorpa mitochondrial DNA and the reverse. The direction and degree of introgression varied among the three localities, but the underlying mechanisms for this observation proved elusive. Introgression might depend on which species serves as the predominant sperm or ovum donor or the environmental conditions of the localities. The present study suggests that introgressive hybridization between pure C. hankugensis and I. longicorpa species is highly likely where the two species co-occur with hybridogenetic individuals, but the consequence of introgression could be variable due to the history and environmental characteristics of particular populations across the parental species’ ranges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1244-1254
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Korean spined loaches
  • hybridogenesis
  • mitochondrial introgression
  • unisexual hybridization


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