Variation in fluctuating asymmetry levels across a Robertsonian polymorphic zone of the house mouse

F. Muñoz-Muñoz, M. A. Sans-Fuentes, M. J. López-Fuster, J. Ventura

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Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) levels were assessed within the Barcelona Robertsonian polymorphic zone of Mus musculus domesticus as a measure of developmental instability (DI). This zone is characterized by populations with a reduced diploid number (2n = 27-39) surrounded by others with standard karyotype (2n = 40). Mice were distributed into four classes according to mean diploid number at each collecting site, and differences in their FA levels were studied. Three different FA indices were calculated on interlandmark distances from two major morphogenetic units of the mandible: the teeth and muscular areas. Three kinds of analysis were performed: trait-by-trait, considering the two regions separately and pooling all traits. In univariate analyses few differences were detected between classes. Nevertheless, when characters were pooled, differences in FA values were found between one Robertsonian group and standard mice, and between several Robertsonian classes. Teeth area traits showed higher FA levels in Rb I mice, i.e. those geographically close to the standard populations. However, FA levels decreased in more introgressed Robertsonian groups and showed significant differences with Rb I. Muscular area traits showed lower DI levels in the Robertsonian mice, especially those with an intermediate mean diploid number (Rb II). When all traits were pooled, FA levels increased in Rb I, whilst the other Robertsonian groups showed similar, or even lower, FA values to those of the standard mice. The higher FA levels found in Rb I suggest an increase in the disruption of genetic coadaptation. Furthermore, in Rb I the presence of metacentrics is more recent than in more introgressed populations; we therefore suggest that Rb I have had less time to restore genetic coadaptation. In addition, the teeth region of the mandible seems to be more sensitive to genomic stress than the muscular region. In the light of these results we suggest that hybrids should be separated into groups and that mandible morphogenetic units be differentiated when using FA in hybrid zones to analyse DI. © 2006 The Authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-250
JournalJournal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006


  • Developmental instability
  • Fluctuating asymmetry
  • Introgression groups
  • Mandible
  • Morphological integration
  • Mus musculus domesticus
  • Robertsonian polymorphic zone


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