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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2007 Dec;17(6):513-8. Epub 2007 Oct 22.

A genomic view of introgression and hybrid speciation.

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Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Hybridization in plants and animals is more common and has more complex outcomes than previously realized. Genome-wide analyses of introgression in organisms ranging from oaks to sunflowers to fruit flies show that a substantial fraction of their genomes are permeable to alleles from related species. Hybridization can lead to rapid genomic changes, including chromosomal rearrangements, genome expansion, differential gene expression, and gene silencing, some of which are mediated by transposable elements. These genomic changes may lead to beneficial new phenotypes, and selection for fertility and ecological traits may in turn alter genome structure. Dramatic increases in the availability of genomic tools will produce a new understanding of the genetic nature of species and will resolve a century-old debate over the basis of hybrid vigor, while the natural recombinants found in hybrid zones will permit genetic mapping of species differences and reproductive barriers in nonmodel organisms.

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