• Triturus;
  • hybrid;
  • RAPD


Identification of hybrids is important for the study of introgression between related species, but can be difficult when morphological differences between parental species are small. In the case of the newts Triturus vulgaris and T. helveticus, males are readily identifiable during the breeding season when secondary sexual characters are highly developed, but female dimorphism is always much less. Male hybrids with intermediate characters are therefore more likely to be detected than female ones. RAPD (random amplified polymorphic DNA) analysis of three putative newt hybrids and examples of the two parent species T. vulgaris and T. helveticus confirmed hybrid status in all three cases. The maternal parents of each hybrid were identified by amplification of mitochondrial cytochrome b and ATPase genes, including partial sequencing of the latter. One hybrid had a T. vulgaris mother while the other two had T. helveticus mothers. The PCR-based methods therefore provided a quick and simple approach for identifying both hybrid status and parentage in crosses between these two urodele species. The RAPD technique should also prove useful for the identification of larvae, which are morphologically indistinguishable in T. vulgaris and T. helveticus.