We analyzed a relative contribution of chromosomal and genetic divergence into reproductive isolation and speciation in three different taxa of mammals. We demonstrated that male sterility in hybrids between different subspecies of South American rodent Thrichomys and hybrids between geographically isolated population of the house musk shrew Suncus murinus was determined solely by genetic incompatibility, and chromosomal changes played minor, if any, role in the speciation. The genetic incompatibility in these two taxa was controlled by a very small number of loci affecting the early stages of meiosis of the hybrids, while the viability of the hybrids was not affected. The analysis of the hybrid zone between two chromosome races of the common shrew Sorex araneus revealed more complex picture. Their genetic divergence for habitat preferences led to formation of ecological premating isolation. Divergence for the genes controlling morphological traits affected the development of the hybrids and, apparently, their viability, thus contributing into postmating isolation. Meiosis in the hybrid males was also affected. In the hybrids we observed a high frequency of synaptic aberrations, which were apparently determined by chromosomal incompatibility. Thus, we may conclude that the fixation of different selectively neutral chromosomal rearrangements in geographically isolated populations does not drive these populations to speciation; however in some cases chromosomal differences may reinforce postmating isolation already established by the divergence of the genes controlling development and chromosome pairing and recombination at meiosis.


Reproductive Isolation Synaptonemal Complex Hybrid Zone Common Shrew Chromosome Race 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. M. Borodin
    • 1
  1. 1.Siberian Department of Russian Academy of ScienceInstitute of Cytology and GeneticsNovosibirsk 630090Russia

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