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Keywords:

  • Arctic char;
  • brook char;
  • geographical distribution;
  • introgression;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • Salvelinus

The geographical extent of Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) mitochondrial DNA introgression into brook char (Salvelinus fontinalis) populations found in eastern Québec was determined by analysing a total of 598 fish from 29 lakes. The nuclear genome was analysed by protein electrophoresis, whereas the ND-5,6 portion of the mitochondrial genome was analysed by restriction fragment length polymorphism. This survey revealed that introgressed S. fontinalis populations are restricted to only one river subdrainage of the Portneuf basin, where Arctic char is completely absent. Elsewhere, nonintrogressed pure S. fontinalis populations populate the lakes. These findings suggest that the initial hybridization event between the species is ancient and probably occurred shortly after recolonization of the area. At that time, the species would have been in contact and the chances of reproductive isolation mechanisms breaking down would have been high. We discuss the possibility that a combination of biogeographical conditions coupled with positive selection for mtDNA introgression led to the present-day distribution of introgressed S. fontinalis in northeastern North America.