Aug 20, 2014

Emergent speciation by multiple Dobzhansky–Muller incompatibilities

Tiago PaixãoRicardo B. R. Azevedo


The Dobzhansky–Muller model posits that incompatibilities between alleles at different loci cause speciation. However, it is known that if the alleles involved in a Dobzhansky–Muller incompatibility (DMI) between two loci are neutral, the resulting reproductive isolation cannot be maintained in the presence of either mutation or gene flow. Here we propose that speciation can emerge through the collective effects of multiple neutral DMIs that cannot, individually, cause speciation—a mechanism we call emergent speciation. We investigate emergent speciation using a haploid neutral network model with recombination. We find that certain combinations of multiple neutral DMIs can lead to speciation. Complex DMIs and high recombination rate between the DMI loci facilitate emergent speciation. These conditions are likely to occur in nature. We conclude that the interaction between DMIs may be a root cause of the origin of species.

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