Journal Article

Roles of Mutation and Selection in Speciation: From Hugo de Vries to the Modern Genomic Era

Masatoshi Nei and Masafumi Nozawa

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 3, issue , pages 812-829
Published in print January 2011 |
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evr028

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One of the most important problems in evolutionary biology is to understand how new species are generated in nature. In the past, it was difficult to study this problem because our lifetime is too short to observe the entire process of speciation. In recent years, however, molecular and genomic techniques have been developed for identifying and studying the genes involved in speciation. Using these techniques, many investigators have already obtained new findings. At present, however, the results obtained are complex and quite confusing. We have therefore attempted to understand these findings coherently with a historical perspective and clarify the roles of mutation and natural selection in speciation. We have first indicated that the root of the currently burgeoning field of plant genomics goes back to Hugo de Vries, who proposed the mutation theory of evolution more than a century ago and that he unknowingly found the importance of polyploidy and chromosomal rearrangements in plant speciation. We have then shown that the currently popular Dobzhansky–Muller model of evolution of reproductive isolation is only one of many possible mechanisms. Some of them are Oka’s model of duplicate gene mutations, multiallelic speciation, mutation-rescue model, segregation-distorter gene model, heterochromatin-associated speciation, single-locus model, etc. The occurrence of speciation also depends on the reproductive system, population size, bottleneck effects, and environmental factors, such as temperature and day length. Some authors emphasized the importance of natural selection to speed up speciation, but mutation is crucial in speciation because reproductive barriers cannot be generated without mutations.

Keywords: chromosomal mutation; Dobzhansky–Muller model; hybrid sterility; hybrid inviability; Oka model; polyploidy

Journal Article.  12039 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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