Paternal leakage of mitochondrial DNA in experimental crosses of populations of the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida
Animal mtDNA is typically assumed to be maternally inherited. Paternal mtDNA has been shown to be excluded from entering the egg or eliminated post-fertilization in several animals. However, in the contact zones of hybridizing species and populations, the reproductive barriers between hybridizing organisms may not be as efficient at preventing paternal mtDNA inheritance, resulting in paternal leakage. We assessed paternal mtDNA leakage in experimental crosses of populations of a cystforming nematode, Globodera pallida. A UK population, Lindley, was crossed with two South American populations, P5A and P4A. Hybridization of these populations was supported by evidence of nuclear DNA from both the maternal and paternal populations in the progeny. To assess paternal mtDNA leakage, a *3.4 kb non-coding mtDNA region was analyzed in the parental populations and in the progeny. Paternal mtDNA was evident in the progeny of both crosses involving populations P5A and P4A. Further, paternal mtDNA replaced the maternal mtDNA in 22 and 40 % of the hybrid cysts from these crosses, respectively. These results indicate that under appropriate conditions, paternal leakage occurs in the mtDNA of parasitic nematodes, and supports the hypothesis that hybrid zones facilitate paternal leakage. Thus, assumptions of strictly maternal mtDNA inheritance may be frequently violated, particularly when divergent populations interbreed.