A l'UM la science [S03-ep29]: Butterfly hybridization

This week in A l'UM la science Mathieu Joron, researcher at the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecologytalks about hybridization in butterflies. In the second half of the program, we return to Cemipai with Yara Tasrini, who uses a microscope to observe zebrafish. Finally, Nathan Roure presents the next Bar des sciences. A program co-produced with Divergence FM and broadcast every Wednesday at 6pm on 93.9.

Have you ever heard of pizzly, or less poetically but much funnier, grolars? In both cases, we're talking about the fruit of love between a grizzly bear and a polar bear. If Daddy Bear is a grizzly and Mummy Bear comes from the ice floe, Baby Bear will be called a grolar, otherwise he'll be called a pizzly. You may have noticed my delicate periphrasis for what is more seriously known as hybridization. There are other examples, such as the mule.

But there are others:

  • the liger or tiger hybrid between a tiger and a lion;
  • sanglochon, a cross between wild boar and pig;
  • the cama, a cross between the llama and the dromedary ;
  • more difficult the zorse, a cross between horse and zebra.

In 2019 according to National Geographic scientists also discovered :

  • narluga from beluga and narwhal ;
  • in 2020, it was a cross between a pink-breasted cardinal and a scarlet piranga that made the headlines, such was the distance between these two bird species.

As for us sapiens, aren't we the fruit of hybridization with Neanderthal or Denisova?

While the phenomenon is not as rare as it seems, it does raise questions. Are they simply anecdotal, sterile little romances, or could they give rise to new species?

This is one of the questions Mathieu Joron will be answering as he focuses on a very special butterfly species. He is a researcher at CEFE, the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, and has co-authored a paper in Nature entitled Hybrid speciation driven by multilocus introgression of ecological traits.

In the second half of the program, we return to the Cemipai with Yara Tasrini and Sébastien Lyonnais, who show us an automatic microscope. It's the only one in France to be installed in a P3 laboratory, and for the record, it joined the Cemipai at the very start of the pandemic to work on sars-cov. As you will hear, the model used is the zebra fish, or rather zebra fish embryos before the formation of their nervous system to avoid any pain. 

Finally, Nathan Roure, in charge of press relations at the University of Montpellier, will present the last Science Bar of the season, dedicated to the migration of animal and plant populations since the dawn of time. See you on Thursday June 13.

At UM la science you've got the program, here we go!

Coproduction : Divergence FM / Université de Montpellier
Animation : Lucie Lecherbonnier
Interview : Aline Périault / Lucie Lecherbonnier
Reporting and editing: Lucie Lecherbonnier / Aline Périault
Production : Tom Chevalier / Alice Rollet

Listen to the program "A l'UM la science" on Divergence FM 93.9

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