Reproduction and hybrid load in all-hybrid populations of Rana esculenta water frogs in Denmark

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Ditte Guldager Christiansen, Kåre Fog, Bo Vest Pedersen, Jacobus Jan Boomsma

All-hybrid populations of the water frog, Rana esculenta, are exceptional in consisting of independently and to some extent sexually reproducing interspecific hybrids. In most of its range R. esculenta reproduces hemiclonally with one of the parental species, R. lessonae or R. ridibunda, but viable populations of diploid and triploid hybrids, in which no individuals of the parental species have been found, exist in the northern part of the range. We test the hypothesis that nonhybrids arise every year in these all-hybrid populations, but die during larval development. Microsatellite markers were used to determine the genotypes of adults and abnormal and healthy offspring in three allhybrid populations of R. esculenta in Denmark. Of all eggs and larvae, 63% developed abnormally or died, with some being nonhybrid (genomes matching one of the parental species), many being aneuploid (with noninteger chromosome sets), a few being tetraploid, and many eggs possibly being unfertilized. The 37% surviving and apparently healthy froglets were all diploid or triploid hybrids. In all three populations, gametogenesis matched the pattern previously described for all-hybrid R. esculenta populations in which most triploid adults have two R. lessonae genomes. This pattern was surprising for the one population in which triploid adults had two R. ridibunda genomes, because here it leads to a deficiency of gametes with an R. lessonae genome and should compromise the stability of this population. We conclude that faulty gametogenesis and mating between frogs with incompatible gametes induce a significant hybrid load in all-hybrid populations of R. esculenta, and we discuss compensating advantages and potential evolutionary trajectories to reduce this hybrid load.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1348-1361
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Egg sizes • gametes • hybridogenesis • microsatellites • population stability • sex determination • triploids

ID: 92835