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Nat Rev Genet. 2007 May;8(5):382-93. Epub 2007 Apr 3.

Hybrid necrosis: autoimmunity as a potential gene-flow barrier in plant species.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Spemanstrasse 37-39, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


Ecological factors, hybrid sterility and differences in ploidy levels are well known for contributing to gene-flow barriers in plants. Another common postzygotic incompatibility, hybrid necrosis, has received comparatively little attention in the evolutionary genetics literature. Hybrid necrosis is associated with a suite of phenotypic characteristics that are similar to those elicited in response to various environmental stresses, including pathogen attack. The genetic architecture is generally simple, and complies with the Bateson-Dobzhansky-Muller model for hybrid incompatibility between species. We survey the extensive literature on this topic and present the hypothesis that hybrid necrosis can result from autoimmunity, perhaps as a pleiotropic effect of evolution of genes that are involved in pathogen response.

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