Gene regulatory divergence among species estimated by altered developmental patterns in interspecific hybrids

H. R. Parker, D. P. Philipp, G. S. Whitt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Disturbances in the schedules of gene expression in developing interspecific fish hybrids have been used to draw inferences about the extent of gene regulatory divergence between species and about the degree to which this gene regulatory divergence is correlated with structural gene divergence, as estimated by genetic distance. Sperm from each of 10 different species representing six genera within the family Centrarchidae was used to fertilize eggs of the Florida largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides floridanus). The genetic distances (D; Nei 1978) between the parental species used to form the hybrids ranged from 0.133 to 0.974. The developmental success and temporal patterns of gene expression of each of the hybrids were compared with those of the Florida largemouth bass. As the genetic distance between the paternal species and the Florida largemouth bass increased, there was a general decline in developmental success in the hybrid embryos as demonstrated by the observed reductions in the percentage of hatching and by progressively earlier and more extensive morphological abnormalities. Concomitantly, progressively more marked alterations in developmental schedules of expression of 15 enzyme loci occurred in the hybrids as the genetic distance between parental species increased. However, observed deviations from this trend for a few species may represent un uncoupling of the rates and modes of evolution of structural genes from those for genes regulating developmental processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-250
Number of pages34
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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