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New Phytol. 2015 Sep;207(4):968-84. doi: 10.1111/nph.13424. Epub 2015 May 5.

The origins of reproductive isolation in plants.

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Department of Biology, Luther College, Decorah, IA, 52101, USA.
School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, 4072, Australia.
Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 47405, USA.


Reproductive isolation in plants occurs through multiple barriers that restrict gene flow between populations, but their origins remain uncertain. Work in the past decade has shown that postpollination barriers, such as the failure to form hybrid seeds or sterility of hybrid offspring, are often less strong than prepollination barriers. Evidence implicates multiple evolutionary forces in the origins of reproductive barriers, including mutation, stochastic processes and natural selection. Although adaptation to different environments is a common element of reproductive isolation, genomic conflicts also play a role, including female meiotic drive. The genetic basis of some reproductive barriers, particularly flower colour influencing pollinator behaviour, is well understood in some species, but the genetic changes underlying many other barriers, especially pollen-stylar interactions, are largely unknown. Postpollination barriers appear to accumulate at a faster rate in annuals compared with perennials, due in part to chromosomal rearrangements. Chromosomal changes can be important isolating barriers in themselves but may also reduce the recombination of genes contributing to isolation. Important questions for the next decade include identifying the evolutionary forces responsible for chromosomal rearrangements, determining how often prezygotic barriers arise due to selection against hybrids, and establishing the relative importance of genomic conflicts in speciation.


genetic architecture; geography of speciation; local adaptation; plants; reproductive isolation; speciation

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