Stability of spermatogenesis and displays of natural selection at the cellular and individual level in immature representatives of the Pelophylax esculentus complex

  • O. Biriuk V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University
  • O. Usova V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University
  • O. Meleshko V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University
  • D. Shabanov V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University
Keywords: hemiclonal population systems, triploids, spermatocytes I, bivalents


Pelophylax esculentus is an interspecific hybrid which reproduces hemiclonally by crossing with the parental species (P. ridibundus or P. lessonae). The structure of hemiclonal population systems is of great interest. The majority of investigations into populations of water frogs deal with samples of mature animals, while subadults are less studied. We collected a random sample of 73 small water frogs from three localities in the Siverskyi Donets River floodplain. All frogs were measured, injected with colchicines and killed after anesthesia. We determined the species specifity, sex, age and ploidy of every individual. In addition, we measured testis length and studied the germ cells of all males by means of karyological analysis. We calculated the portion of triploids in the largest subsample from the vicinity of the Biological Station of V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University and carried out a meta-analysis of previous publications dealing with composition of green frog samples from this locality. The proportion of triploids in our sample appeared to be approximately the same as 12 years ago. However, this proportion in our sample differed significantly from that obtained in recent samples of green frogs belonging to other age groups (adults and metamorphs) from the same locality. The share of triploids of P. esculentus is the lowest in the sample of metamorphs. This proportion increases in froglets because of early death of representatives of parental species which originated from hybrid-hybrid crossing. Then the number of triploids among adult P. esculentus individuals declines again probably because of their lower viability compared to diploids. We have revealed that subadult diploids have erythrocytes smaller than 28 microns, while triploids’ erythrocytes exceed 27 microns. Therefore, in borderline cases true ploidy could be determined only by the karyological technique. The average ratio between testis length and body length appeared to be larger in the parental species than in both diploid and triploid hybrids. Karyological analysis has revealed that P. esculentus had significantly lower portions of spermatocytes I with normal karyotype (13 bivalents) in the testis in comparison with P. ridibundus, but this value increases in adult hybrids. We suggest that increasing of spermatogenesis stability in adult frogs as opposed to subadults might be the consequence of both selection of germ cell lines in the testis and more frequent survival of individuals with stable gametogenesis. 


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