Y-chromosome evidence supports asymmetric dog introgression into eastern coyotes

Authors


Abstract

Hybridization has played an important role in the evolutionary history of Canis species in eastern North America. Genetic evidence of coyote–dog hybridization based on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is lacking compared to that based on autosomal markers. This discordance suggests dog introgression into coyotes has potentially been male biased, but this hypothesis has not been formally tested. Therefore, we investigated biparentally, maternally, and paternally inherited genetic markers in a sample of coyotes and dogs from southeastern Ontario to assess potential asymmetric dog introgression into coyotes. Analysis of autosomal microsatellite genotypes revealed minimal historical and contemporary admixture between coyotes and dogs. We observed only mutually exclusive mtDNA haplotypes in coyotes and dogs, but we observed Y-chromosome haplotypes (Y-haplotypes) in both historical and contemporary coyotes that were also common in dogs. Species-specific Zfy intron sequences of Y-haplotypes shared between coyotes and dogs confirmed their homology and indicated a putative origin from dogs. We compared Y-haplotypes observed in coyotes, wolves, and dogs profiled in multiple studies, and observed that the Y-haplotypes shared between coyotes and dogs were either absent or rare in North American wolves, present in eastern coyotes, but absent in western coyotes. We suggest the eastern coyote has experienced asymmetric genetic introgression from dogs, resulting from predominantly historical hybridization with male dogs and subsequent backcrossing of hybrid offspring with coyotes. We discuss the temporal and spatial dynamics of coyote–dog hybridization and the conditions that may have facilitated the introgression of dog Y-chromosomes into coyotes. Our findings clarify the evolutionary history of the eastern coyote.

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