(1/1185) Reconstructing the origin of Helianthus deserticola: survival and selection on the desert floor.

The diploid hybrid species Helianthus deserticola inhabits the desert floor, an extreme environment relative to its parental species Helianthus annuus and Helianthus petiolaris. Adaptation to the desert floor may have occurred via selection acting on transgressive, or extreme, traits in early hybrids between the parental species. We explored this possibility through a field experiment in the hybrid species' native habitat using H. deserticola, H. annuus, H. petiolaris, and two populations of early-generation (BC(2)) hybrids between the parental species, which served as proxies for the ancestral genotype of the ancient hybrid species. Character expression was evaluated for each genotypic class. Helianthus deserticola was negatively transgressive for stem diameter, leaf area, and flowering date, and the latter two traits are likely to be advantageous in a desert environment. The BC(2) hybrids contained a range of variation that overlapped these transgressive trait means, and an analysis of phenotypic selection revealed that some of the selective pressures on leaf size and flowering date, but not stem diameter, would move the BC(2) population toward the H. deserticola phenotype. Thus, H. deserticola may have originated from habitat-mediated directional selection acting on hybrids between H. annuus and H. petiolaris in a desert environment.  (+info)

(2/1185) On the dependence of speciation rates on species abundance and characteristic population size.

The question of the potential importance for speciation of large/small population sizes remains open. We compare speciation rates in twelve major taxonomic groups that differ by twenty orders of magnitude in characteristic species abundance (global population number). It is observed that the twenty orders of magnitude's difference in species abundances scales to less than two orders of magnitude's difference in speciation rates. As far as species abundance largely determines the rate of generation of intraspecific endogenous genetic variation, the result obtained suggests that the latter rate is not a limiting factor for speciation. Furthermore, the observed approximate constancy of speciation rates in different taxa cannot be accounted for by assuming a neutral or nearly neutral molecular clock in subdivided populations. Neutral fixation is only relevant in sufficiently small populations with 4N(e)v < 1, which appears an unrealistic condition for many taxa of the smaller organisms. Further research is clearly needed to reveal the mechanisms that could equate the evolutionary pace in taxa with dramatically different population sizes  (+info)

(3/1185) The ecological genetics of homoploid hybrid speciation.

Our understanding of homoploid hybrid speciation has advanced substantially since this mechanism of species formation was codified 50 years ago. Early theory and research focused almost exclusively on the importance of chromosomal rearrangements, but it later became evident that natural selection, specifically ecological selection, might play a major role as well. In light of this recent shift, we present an evaluation of ecology's role in homoploid hybrid speciation, with an emphasis on the genetics underlying ecological components of the speciation process. We briefly review new theoretical developments related to the ecology of homoploid hybrid speciation; propose a set of explicit, testable questions that must be answered to verify the role of ecological selection in homoploid hybrid speciation; discuss published work with reference to these questions; and also report new data supporting the importance of ecological selection in the origin of the homoploid hybrid sunflower species Helianthus deserticola. Overall, theory and empirical evidence gathered to date suggest that ecological selection is a major factor promoting homoploid hybrid speciation, with the strongest evidence coming from genetic studies.  (+info)

(4/1185) Assessing the origin of species in the genomic era.

Advances in genomics have rapidly accelerated research into the genetics of species differences, reproductive isolating barriers, and hybrid incompatibility. Recent genomic analyses in Drosophila species suggest that modified olfactory cues are involved in discrimination that is reinforced by natural selection.  (+info)

(5/1185) Contrasting patterns of polymorphism and divergence on the Z chromosome and autosomes in two Ficedula flycatcher species.

In geographic areas where pied and collared flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca and F. albicollis) breed in sympatry, hybridization occurs, leading to gene flow (introgression) between the two recently diverged species. Notably, while such introgression is observable at autosomal loci it is apparently absent at the Z chromosome, suggesting an important role for genes on the Z chromosome in creating reproductive isolation during speciation. To further understand the role of Z-linked loci in the formation of new species, we studied genetic variation of the two species from regions where they live in allopatry. We analyzed patterns of polymorphism and divergence in introns from 9 Z-linked and 23 autosomal genes in pied and collared flycatcher males. Average variation on the Z chromosome is greatly reduced compared to neutral expectations based on autosomal diversity in both species. We also observe significant heterogeneity between patterns of polymorphism and divergence at Z-linked loci and a relative absence of polymorphisms that are shared by the two species on the Z chromosome compared to the autosomes. We suggest that these observations may indicate the action of recurrent selective sweeps on the Z chromosome during the evolution of the two species, which may be caused by sexual selection acting on Z-linked genes. Alternatively, reduced variation on the Z chromosome could result from substantially higher levels of introgression at autosomal than at Z-linked loci or from a complex demographic history, such as a population bottleneck.  (+info)

(6/1185) Genetic mapping of species boundaries in Louisiana irises using IRRE retrotransposon display markers.

Genetic mapping studies provide insight into the pattern and extent of genetic incompatibilities affecting hybridization between closely related species. Genetic maps of two species of Louisiana Irises, Iris fulva and I. brevicaulis, were constructed from transposon-based molecular markers segregating in reciprocal backcross (BC1) interspecific hybrids and used to investigate genomic patterns of species barriers inhibiting introgression. Linkage mapping analyses indicated very little genetic incompatibility between I. fulva and I. brevicaulis in the form of map regions exhibiting transmission ratio distortion, and this was confirmed using a Bayesian multipoint mapping analysis. These results demonstrate the utility of transposon-based marker systems for genetic mapping studies of wild plant species and indicate that the genomes of I. fulva and I. brevicaulis are highly permeable to gene flow and introgression from one another via backcrossing.  (+info)

(7/1185) Signatures of reproductive isolation in patterns of single nucleotide diversity across inbred strains of mice.

Reproductive isolation is often caused by the disruption of genic interactions that evolve in geographically separate populations. Identifying the genomic regions and genes involved in these interactions, known as "Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities," can be challenging but is facilitated by the wealth of genetic markers now available in model systems. In recent years, the complete genome sequence and thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from laboratory mice, which are largely genetic hybrids between Mus musculus and M. domesticus, have become available. Here, we use these resources to locate genomic regions that may underlie reproductive isolation between these two species. Using genotypes from 332 SNPs that differ between wild-derived strains of M. musculus and M. domesticus, we identified several physically unlinked SNP pairs that show exceptional gametic disequilibrium across the lab strains. Conspecific alleles were associated in a disproportionate number of these cases, consistent with the action of natural selection against hybrid gene combinations. As predicted by the Dobzhansky-Muller model, this bias was differentially attributable to locus pairs for which one hybrid genotype was missing. We assembled a list of potential Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities from locus pairs that showed extreme associations (only three gametic types) among conspecific alleles. Two SNPs in this list map near known hybrid sterility loci on chromosome 17 and the X chromosome, allowing us to nominate partners for disrupted interactions involving these genomic regions for the first time. Together, these results indicate that patterns produced by speciation between M. musculus and M. domesticus are visible in the genomes of lab strains of mice, underscoring the potential of these genetic model organisms for addressing general questions in evolutionary biology.  (+info)

(8/1185) A test of founder effect speciation using multiple loci in the auklets (Aethia spp.).

Whether speciation results more frequently from the genetic consequences of founder events or from gradual genetic divergence of large populations is a matter of debate. In this study, multiple analyses were applied to data from three loci (cytochrome b, alpha-enolase intron VIII, and MHC class II B) to test for founder effects associated with speciation in Aethia (Aves: Alcidae), a genus of seabirds thought to have undergone a rapid founder-induced radiation. Effective population sizes (N(e)) were derived from estimators of based on allelic diversity and the coalescent and from data on trans-species polymorphism. Results indicated that N(e) has been on the order of 10(5)-10(6) individuals throughout the evolutionary histories of least and crested auklets (A. pusilla and A. cristatella, respectively) and that N(e) of the ancestral species was at least 16,000 individuals. Computer simulations of MHC evolution indicated that a single-generation bottleneck at speciation could not have involved <85 individuals for each species. More moderate simulation scenarios indicated that population size could not have dropped below 2000 individuals at the time of species founding. Demographic history appears to have been stable for the auklets throughout the past several million years, and a founder effect associated with their speciation is unlikely.  (+info)