Genetic conflicts and the origins of species

22 March 2019

Nitin Phadnis
Department of Biology
University of Utah


Speciation, the process by which one species splits into two, involves the evolution of reproductive isolating barriers such as the sterility or inviability of hybrids between previously interbreeding populations. Even in his masterpiece "On The Origin of Species", Darwin could find no satisfactory solution to the apparent paradox of why natural selection would tolerate the onset of genetic barriers such as hybrid sterility and inviability that diminish the prospect of successful reproduction and, therefore, termed this problem the "mystery of mysteries". The studies of the cellular and developmental anomalies in inter-species hybrids provide surprising insights into the otherwise hidden evolutionary conflicts that ultimately shape the architecture of our genomes, cells and species. Here, I describe the key developments that are rapidly changing our understanding of the molecular basis of speciation, and the problems that still remain unsolved.

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