Discordant Patterns of Nuclear and Mitochondrial Introgression in Iberian Populations of the European Common Frog (Rana temporaria)

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Amphibians often show complex histories of intraspecific and interspecific genetic introgression, which might differ in mitochondrial and nuclear genes. In our study of the genetic differentiation of the European common frog, Rana temporaria (159 specimens from 23 populations were analyzed for 24 presumptive allozyme loci; 82 specimens were sequenced for a 540-bp fragment of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene), multilocus correspondence analysis (CA) and Bayesian assignment tests of the nuclear data were concordant in identifying 2 population groups corresponding to 1) the Pyrenees in the east and 2) the Galicia and Asturias regions in the west, the latter corresponding to the subspecies R.temporaria parvipalmata. Geographically intermediate populations were genetically intermediate in the allozyme CA and, less clearly in the Bayesian assignment, with mitochondrial haplotypes exclusively belonging to the parvipalmata group. This indicates different degrees of introgression in the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. Although Pyrenean high-altitude populations are morphologically distinct from low-altitude populations, these 2 groups were not separate clusters in any analysis. This suggests that the morphological differences may be due to fast adaptation to elevational gradients, likely under maintenance of gene flow, and that the underlying genetic changes are not detectable by the analyzed markers. We argue that a parsimonious explanation for the observed pattern along the east–west axis in northern Spain may be competition between invading and resident populations, with no need to invoke selection. However, in order to conclusively rule out selective processes, additional and finer scale data are required to test for asymmetric mating preference/behaviour, sex-biased gene flow, or sex-biased survival of potential hybrids.

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