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Genomic identification of intergeneric hybrids in New World wood-warblers (Aves: Parulidae)

July 31, 2020

The documentation of hybrids between distantly related taxa can illustrate an initial step to explain how genes might move between species that do not exhibit complete reproductive isolation. In birds, some of the most phylogenetically distant hybrid combinations occur between genera. Traditionally, morphological and plumage characters have been used to assign the identity of the parental species of a putative hybrid, although recently, nuclear introns also have been used. Here, we demonstrate how high-throughput short-read DNA sequence data can be used to identify the parentage of a putative intergeneric hybrid, in this case between a blue-winged warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera) and a cerulean warbler (Setophaga cerulea). This hybrid had mitochondrial DNA of a cerulean warbler, indicating the maternal parent. For hundreds of single nucleotide polymorphisms within six regions of the nuclear genome that differentiate blue-winged warblers and golden-winged warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera), the hybrid had roughly equal ancestry assignment to blue-winged and cerulean warblers, suggesting a blue-winged warbler as the paternal parent species and demonstrating that this was a first generation (F1) hybrid between these species. Unlike other recently characterized intergeneric warbler hybrids, this individual hybrid learned to song match its maternal parent species, suggesting that it might have been the result of an extra-pair mating and raised in a cerulean warbler nest.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Genomic identification of intergeneric hybrids in New World wood-warblers (Aves: Parulidae)
DOI 10.1093/biolinnean/blaa085
Authors David P. L. Toews, Gunnar R. Kramer, Andrew W. Jones, Courtney L. Brennan, Benjamin E. Cloud, David Andersen, Irby J. Lovette, Henry Streby
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Index ID 70228567
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown

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