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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Sep 2;94(18):9763-7.

Molecular keys to speciation: DNA polymorphism and the control of genetic exchange in enterobacteria.

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Laboratoire de Mutagenèse, Institut Jacques Monod, 2 Place Jussieu, 75251 Paris Cedex 05, France.


Speciation involves the establishment of genetic barriers between closely related organisms. The extent of genetic recombination is a key determinant and a measure of genetic isolation. The results reported here reveal that genetic barriers can be established, eliminated, or modified by manipulating two systems which control genetic recombination, SOS and mismatch repair. The extent of genetic isolation between enterobacteria is a simple mathematical function of DNA sequence divergence. The function does not depend on hybrid DNA stability, but rather on the number of blocks of sequences identical in the two mating partners and sufficiently large to allow the initiation of recombination. Further, there is no obvious discontinuity in the function that could be used to define a level of divergence for distinguishing species.

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