Genome-wide SNPs detect hybridisation of marsupial gliders (Petaurus breviceps breviceps × petaurus norfolcensis) in the wild

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Petaurus breviceps and Petaurus norfolcensis have produced hybrids in captivity, however there are no reported cases of Petaurus hybridisation in the wild. This study uses morphological data, mitochondrial DNA, and nuclear genome-wide SNP markers to confirm P. breviceps breviceps × P. norfolcensis hybridisation within their natural range on the central coast of New South Wales, Australia. Morphological data identified a potential hybrid that was confirmed with next-generation sequencing technology and 10,111 genome-wide SNPs. Both STRUCTURE and NewHybrid analyses identified the hybrid as a P. norfolcensis backcross, which suggests an initial F1 hybrid was fertile. The mitochondrial DNA matched that of a P. b. breviceps, indicating that a P. b. breviceps female initially mated with a P. norfolcensis male to produce a fertile female offspring. Our study is an important example of how genome-wide SNPs can be used to identify hybrids where the distribution of congeners overlaps. Hybridisation between congeners is likely to become more frequent as climate changes and habitats fragment, resulting in increased interactions and competition for resources and mates.

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Funding Sponsor

National Parks and Wildlife Service



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