Single hybrid population but multiple parental individuals at the origin of parthenogenetic rock lizards Darevskia sapphirina and D. bendimahiensis Schmidtler, & Eiselt Darevsky (1994) endemic to the area of Lake Van in East Turkey

Erdolu M., ŞAHİN M. K., SOMEL M., Yanchukov A.

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol.189, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 189
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ympev.2023.107925
  • Journal Name: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: Caucasian rock lizards, Clonal reproduction, Darevskia, ddRAD, Hybridization, Lake Van, Parthenogenesis
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Among vertebrates, obligate parthenogenesis is only found in Squamata, where it always has a hybrid origin and a few lizard genera contain most of the known hybridogenous parthenogenetic taxa. Parthenogenesis thus seems to be pre-conditioned at the genus level, but it is not clear how often the encounter between two parental sexually reproducing species can result in the parthenogenetic offspring, nor whether the success of such hybridization event requires certain conditions or the specific time frame. To address this question, we studied the rock lizards of genus Darevskia, where a pair of parental species, D. valentini and D. raddei, as well as their parthenogenetic daughter species D. bendimahiensis and D. sapphirina, are found in close proximity NE of the Lake Van in East Anatolia. Using ddRAD-seq genotyping on 19 parental and 18 hybrid individuals, we found that (i) all parthenogenetic individuals from both D. bendimahiensis and D. sapphirina have a monophyletic origin tracing back to a single initial hybrid population, but their current genetic variation is geographically structured; (ii) unlike the most probable paternal ancestor, the genetically closest extant population of the maternal ancestor is not the geographically nearest one; and (iii) in the parthenogens, about 1% of loci carry multiple haplotypes, frequently differentiated by multiple substitutions. This pattern, in addition to biases in the relative frequency of haplotypes of maternal and paternal origin, does not appear compatible with a scenario of the entire parthenogenic clonal population having descended from a single pair of parental individuals. Instead, the data suggest that multiple parental individual ancestries still persist in the parthenogenetic gene pool. This supports the notion that although hybridization leading to parthenogenesis is generally rare at the level of species, it may be more common at the individual/population level once the right conditions are met.