Assortative mating preferences among hybrids offers a route to hybrid speciation

Maria C. Melo, Camilo Salazar, Chris D. Jiggins, Mauricio Linares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Homoploid speciation generates species without a change in chromosome number via introgressive hybridization and has been considered rare in animals. Heliconius butterflies exhibit bright aposematic color patterns that also act as cues in assortative mating. Heliconius heurippa has a color pattern that can be recreated by introgression of the H. melpomene red band into an H. cydno genetic background. Wild H. heurippa males show assortative mating based on color pattern and we here investigate the origin of this preference by studying first-generation backcross hybrids between H. melpomene and H. cydno that resemble H. heurippa. These hybrids show assortative mating preferences, showing a strong preference for their own color pattern over that of either parental species. This is consistent with a genetic basis to wing pattern preference and implies, first, that assortative mating preferences would facilitate the initial establishment of a homozygous hybrid color pattern by increasing the likelihood that early generation hybrids mate among themselves. Second, once established such a lineage would inherit assortative mating preferences that would lead to partial reproductive isolation from parental lineages. 2009 The Society for the Study of Evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1660-1665
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Assortative mating preferences among hybrids offers a route to hybrid speciation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this