Evidence for Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilites contributing to the sterility of hybrids between Mimulus guttatus and M. nasutus

L. Fishman, J. H. Willis

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122 Scopus citations


Both chromosomal rearrangements and negative interactions among loci (Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities) have been advanced as the genetic mechanism underlying the sterility of interspecific hybrids. These alternatives invoke very different evolutionary histories during speciation and also predict different patterns of sterility in artificial hybrids. Chromosomal rearrangements require drift, inbreeding, or other special conditions for initial fixation and, because heterozygosity per se generates any problems with gamete formation, F1 hybrids will be most infertile. In contrast, Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities may arise as byproducts of adaptive evolution and often affect the segregating F2 generation most severely. To distinguish the effects of these two mechanisms early in divergence, we investigated the quantitative genetics of hybrid sterility in a line cross between two members of the Mimulus guttatus species complex (M. guttatus and M. nasutus). Hybrids showed partial male and female sterility, and the patterns of infertility were not consistent with the action of chromosomal rearrangements alone. F2 and F1 hybrids exhibited equal decreases in pollen viability (> 40%) relative to the highly fertile parental lines. A large excess of completely pollen-sterile F2 genotypes also pointed to the segregation of Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibility factors affecting male fertility. Female fertility showed a pattern similarly consistent with epistatic interactions: F2 hybrids produced far fewer seeds per flower than F1 hybrids (88.0 ± 2.8 vs. 162.9 ± 8.5 SE, respectively) and either parental line, and many F2 genotypes were completely female sterile. Dobzhansky-Muller interactions also resulted in the breakdown of several nonreproductive characters and appear to contribute to correlations between male and female fertility in the F2 generation. These results parallel and contrast with the genetics of postzygotic isolation in model animal systems and are a first step toward understanding the process of speciation in this well-studied group of flowering plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1932-1942
Number of pages11
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001


  • Chromosomal rearrangement
  • Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibility
  • Epistasis
  • Hybrid
  • Postzygotic reproductive isolation
  • Speciation
  • Sterility


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