Interspecies hybrids between distinct species of the genus Xiphophorus are often used in varied research investigations to identify genomic regions associated with the inheritance of complex traits. There are 24 described Xiphophorus species and a greater number of pedigreed strains; thus, the number of potential interspecies hybrid cross combinations is quite large. Previously, select Xiphophorus experimental crosses have been shown to exhibit differing characteristics between parental species and among the hybrid fishes derived from crossing them, such as widely differing susceptibilities to chemical or physical agents. For instance, genomic regions harboring tumor suppressor and oncogenes have been identified via linkage association of these loci with a small set of established genetic markers. The power of this experimental strategy is related to the number of genetic markers available in the Xiphophorus interspecies cross of interest. Thus, we have undertaken the task of expanding the suite of easily scored markers by characterization of Xiphophorus microsatellite sequences. Using a cross between Xiphophorus maculatus and X. andersi, we report a linkage map predominantly composed of microsatellite markers. All 24 acrocentric chromosome sets of Xiphophorus are represented in the assembled linkage map with an average intergenomic distance of 7.5 cM. Since both male and female F1 hybrids were used to produce backcross progeny, these recombination rates were compared between "male" and "female" maps. Although several genomic regions exhibit differences in map length, male- and female-derived maps are similar. Thus Xiphophorus, in contrast to zebrafish, Danio rerio, and several other vertebrate species, does not show sex-specific differences in recombination. The microsatellite markers we report can be easily adapted to any Xiphophorus interspecies and some intraspecies crosses, and thus provide a means to directly compare results derived from independent experiments.
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