Laboratory hybridization among North American whiptail lizards, including Aspidoscelis inornata arizonae x A. tigris marmorata (Squamata, Teiidae), ancestors of unisexual clones in nature. (American Museum novitates, no. 3698)

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American Museum of Natural History.
The natural origin of diploid parthenogenesis in whiptail lizards has been through interspecific hybridization. Genomes of the parthenogens indicate that they originated in one generation, as the lizards clone the F₁ hybrid state. In addition, hybridization between diploid parthenogens and males of bisexual species has resulted in triploid parthenogenetic clones in nature. Consequently, the genus Aspidoscelis contains numerous gonochoristic (= bisexual) species and numerous unisexual species whose closest relatives are bisexual, and from whom they originated through instantaneous sympatric speciation and an abrupt and dramatic switch in reproductive biology. In order to study this phenomenon more closely, with hopes (unfulfilled) to witness the origin of parthenogenetic cloning in one generation, we maintained whiptail lizards in captivity. For more than 29 years, we caged males of bisexual species with females of bisexual and of unisexual species in attempts to obtain laboratory hybrids. Hybrids were raised to adulthood to see whether they would reproduce, but none did. The hybrid status of suspected laboratory hybrids was confirmed by karyotypic, allozyme, and morphological analyses, and histological studies were made on reproductive tissues of the hybrids, which were apparently sterile. The present paper focuses on the laboratory hybrids of two bisexual species, A. inornata arizonae ([female]) x A. tigris marmorata ([male]). These three individuals from one clutch of eggs were the only hybrids between two bisexual species that we obtained. The hybrids had a karyotype, allozymes (21 loci tested), and external morphology that were similar to those of A. neomexicana, which is a diploid parthenogen that had a hybrid origin in nature that was the reciprocal cross: A. t. marmorata ([female]) x A. inornata ([male]). Histological study showed that the largest and oldest laboratory hybrid raised, which appeared to be a female with inherited X chromosome of A. t. marmorata, was an intersex with an enormous adrenal. The other hybrid that reached adult size, a male, was also apparently sterile. Later, we review and summarize the information on the other laboratory hybrids we obtained over the years. These include two different combinations of hybrids between a male of a bisexual species and females of unisexual species (one diploid, one triploid), producing triploid and tetraploid hybrids, respectively, as a haploid genome from the male was added to the cloned egg. Considering only those specimens whose hybrid status was confirmed with genetic analyses, a total of only five hybrids from three crosses were obtained over 29 years. The effort involved having a total of 74 males of four species caged with 156 females of nine species, where individuals were caged together for at least six months (or less, if mating behavior was observed). Despite our extensive efforts to provide for their comfort and best health and captive environment, the lizards at times experienced health problems such as metabolic bone disease and a Salmonella infection. These definitely had a negative effect on reproduction, the full extent of which is unknown. Nevertheless, we estimate that successful hybridization among whiptail lizards (i.e., which results in healthy offspring capable of reproduction) is much more rare than we previously thought, although, paradoxically, it is far more common among Aspidoscelis than among nearly all other genera of lizards in the world, with the possible exception of lacertids.
43 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 26 cm. "October 11, 2010."
Aspidoscelis inornata arizonae., Aspidoscelis tigris marmorata., Lizards., Hybridization., Parthenogenesis in animals., Intersexuality.