Roles of Mutation and Selection in Speciation: From Hugo de Vries to the Modern Genomic Era
Masatoshi Nei* and Masafumi Nozawa
- Author Affiliations
Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics and Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University
↵*Corresponding author: E-mail: email@example.com.
Accepted March 17, 2011.
One of the most important problems in evolutionary biology is to understand how new species are generated in nature. In the past, it was difficult to study this problem because our lifetime is too short to observe the entire process of speciation. In recent years, however, molecular and genomic techniques have been developed for identifying and studying the genes involved in speciation. Using these techniques, many investigators have already obtained new findings. At present, however, the results obtained are complex and quite confusing. We have therefore attempted to understand these findings coherently with a historical perspective and clarify the roles of mutation and natural selection in speciation. We have first indicated that the root of the currently burgeoning field of plant genomics goes back to Hugo de Vries, who proposed the mutation theory of evolution more than a century ago and that he unknowingly found the importance of polyploidy and chromosomal rearrangements in plant speciation. We have then shown that the currently popular Dobzhansky–Muller model of evolution of reproductive isolation is only one of many possible mechanisms. Some of them are Oka’s model of duplicate gene mutations, multiallelic speciation, mutation-rescue model, segregation-distorter gene model, heterochromatin-associated speciation, single-locus model, etc. The occurrence of speciation also depends on the reproductive system, population size, bottleneck effects, and environmental factors, such as temperature and day length. Some authors emphasized the importance of natural selection to speed up speciation, but mutation is crucial in speciation because reproductive barriers cannot be generated without mutations.
chromosomal mutation Dobzhansky–Muller model hybrid sterility hybrid inviability Oka model polyploidy
© The Author(s) 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.
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