Article ID: 16-00022
Hybrid incompatibility is important in speciation as it prevents gene flow between closely related populations. Reduced fitness from hybrid incompatibility may also reinforce prezygotic reproductive isolation between sympatric populations. However, the genetic and developmental basis of hybrid incompatibility in higher vertebrates remains poorly understood. Mammals and birds, both amniotes, have similar developmental processes, but marked differences in development such as the XY/ZW sex determination systems and the presence or absence of genomic imprinting. Here, we review the sterile phenotype of hybrids between the Phodopus dwarf hamsters P. campbelli and P. sungorus, and the inviable phenotype of hybrids between two birds of the family Phasianidae, chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) and Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). We propose hypotheses for developmental defects that are associated with these hybrid incompatibilities. In addition, we discuss the genetic and developmental basis for these defects in conjunction with recent findings from mouse and avian models of genetics, reproductive biology and genomics. We suggest that these hybrids are ideal animal models for studying the genetic and developmental basis of hybrid incompatibility in amniotes.