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Heredity (Edinb). 2000 Apr;84 ( Pt 4):441-51.

The likelihood of homoploid hybrid speciation.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.


New species may be formed through hybridization and without an increase in ploidy. The challenge is for hybrid derivatives to escape the homogenizing effects of gene flow from parental species. The mechanisms hypothesized to underlie this process were modelled using a computer simulation. The model is of recombinational speciation, in which chromosomal rearrangements between parental species result in poor fertility of F1 hybrids, but through recombination, novel homozygous types are formed that have restored fertility. In simulations, stable populations bearing the recombinant karyotypes originated frequently and were maintained when the fertility of F1 hybrids was high. However, this high rate of origination was offset by low genetic isolation, and lower F1 hybrid fertility increased the evolutionary independence of derived populations. In addition, simulations showed that ecological and spatial isolation were required to achieve substantial reproductive isolation of incipient species. In the model, the opportunity for ecological isolation arose as a result of adaptation to extreme habitats not occupied by parental species, and any form of spatial isolation (e.g. founder events) contributed to genetic isolation. Our results confirmed the importance of the combination of factors that had been emphasized in verbal models and illustrate the trade-off between the frequency at which hybrid species arise and the genetic integrity of incipient species.

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