Hybridization, sex-specific genomic architecture and local adaptation

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


While gene flow can reduce the potential for local adaptation, hybridization may conversely provide genetic variation that increases the potential for local adaptation. Hybridization may also affect adaptation through altering sexual dimorphism and sexual conflict, but this remains largely unstudied. Here, we discuss how hybridization may affect sexual dimorphism and conflict due to differential effects of hybridization on males and females, and then how this, in turn, may affect local adaptation. First, in species with heterochromatic sexes, the lower viability of the heterogametic sex in hybrids could shift the balance in sexual conflict. Second, sex-specific inheritance of the mitochondrial genome in hybrids may lead to cytonuclear mismatches, for example, in the form of 'mother's curse', with potential consequences for sex ratio and sex-specific expression. Third, sex-biased introgression and recombination may lead to sex-specific consequences of hybridization. Fourth, transgressive segregation of sexually antagonistic alleles could increase sexual dimorphism in hybrid populations. Sexual dimorphism can reduce sexual conflict and enhance intersexual niche partitioning, increasing the fitness of hybrids. Adaptive introgression of alleles reducing sexual conflict or enhancing intersexual niche partitioning may facilitate local adaptation, and could favour the colonization of novel habitats. We review these consequences of hybridization on sex differences and local adaptation, and discuss how their prevalence and importance could be tested empirically.This article is part of the theme issue 'Linking local adaptation with the evolution of sex differences'.


  • Anna Runemark
  • Fabrice Eroukhmanoff
  • Angela Nava-Bolaños
  • Jo S. Hermansen
  • Joana I. Meier
External organisations
  • University of Oslo
  • National Autonomous University of Mexico
  • University of Bern
  • Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • asymmetric introgression, hybridization, intersexual correlations, local adaptation, sex-specific inheritance, sex-specific recombination
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1757
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch