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Placental Invasiveness Mediates the Evolution of Hybrid Inviability in Mammals

Michael G. Elliot and Bernard J. Crespi
The American Naturalist
Vol. 168, No. 1 (July 2006), pp. 114-120
DOI: 10.1086/505162
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/505162
Page Count: 7
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Placental Invasiveness Mediates the Evolution of Hybrid Inviability in Mammals
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Abstract

Abstract: A central question in evolutionary biology is why animal lineages differ strikingly in rates and patterns of the evolution of reproductive isolation. Here, we show that the maximum genetic distance at which interspecific mammalian pregnancies yield viable neonates is significantly greater in clades with invasive (hemochorial) placentation than in clades with noninvasive (epitheliochorial or endotheliochorial) placentation. Moreover, sister species with invasive placentation exhibit higher allopatry in their geographic ranges, suggesting that formerly separated populations in mammals with this placental type fuse more readily on recontact. These differences are apparently driven by the stronger downregulation of maternal immune responses under invasive placentation, where fetal antigens directly contact the maternal bloodstream. Our results suggest that placental invasiveness mediates a major component of reproductive isolation in mammals.

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