Limited genomic consequences of hybridization between two African clawed frogs, Xenopus gilli and X. laevis (Anura: Pipidae)
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The Cape platanna, Xenopus gilli, an endangered frog, hybridizes with the African clawed frog, X. laevis, in South Africa. Estimates of the extent of gene flow between these species range from pervasive to rare. Efforts have been made in the last 30 years to minimize hybridization between these two species in the west population of X. gilli, but not the east populations. To further explore the impact of hybridization and the efforts to minimize it, we examined molecular variation in one mitochondrial and 13 nuclear genes in genetic samples collected recently (2013) and also over two decades ago (1994). Despite the presence of F 1 hybrids, none of the genomic regions we surveyed had evidence of gene flow between these species, indicating a lack of extensive introgression. Additionally we found no significant effect of sampling time on genetic diversity of populations of each species. Thus, we speculate that F 1 hybrids have low fitness and are not backcrossing with the parental species to an appreciable degree. Within X. gilli, evidence for gene flow was recovered between eastern and western populations, a finding that has implications for conservation management of this species and its threatened habitat.
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