Avian Introgression Patterns are Consistent With Haldane’s Rule

Jente Ottenburghs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


According to Haldane’s Rule, the heterogametic sex will show the greatest fitness reduction in a hybrid cross. In birds, where sex is determined by a ZW system, female hybrids are expected to experience lower fitness compared to male hybrids. This pattern has indeed been observed in several bird groups, but it is unknown whether the generality of Haldane’s Rule also extends to the molecular level. First, given the lower fitness of female hybrids, we can expect maternally inherited loci (i.e., mitochondrial and W-linked loci) to show lower introgression rates than biparentally inherited loci (i.e., autosomal loci) in females. Second, the faster evolution of Z-linked loci compared to autosomal loci and the hemizygosity of the Z-chromosome in females might speed up the accumulation of incompatible alleles on this sex chromosome, resulting in lower introgression rates for Z-linked loci than for autosomal loci. I tested these expectations by conducting a literature review which focused on studies that directly quantified introgression rates for autosomal, sex-linked, and mitochondrial loci. Although most studies reported introgression rates in line with Haldane’s Rule, it remains important to validate these genetic patterns with estimates of hybrid fitness and supporting field observations to rule out alternative explanations. Genomic data provide exciting opportunities to obtain a more fine-grained picture of introgression rates across the genome, which can consequently be linked to ecological and behavioral observations, potentially leading to novel insights into the genetic mechanisms underpinning Haldane’s Rule.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberesac005
Pages (from-to)363-370
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number4
Early online date3 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2022


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