Avoiding inbreeding, and therefore avoiding inbreeding depression in offspring fitness, is widely assumed to be adaptive in systems with biparental reproduction. However, inbreeding can also confer an inclusive fitness benefit stemming from increased relatedness between parents and inbred offspring. Whether or not inbreeding or avoiding inbreeding is adaptive therefore depends on a balance between inbreeding depression and increased parent-offspring relatedness. Existing models of biparental inbreeding predict threshold values of inbreeding depression above which males and females should avoid inbreeding, and predict sexual conflict over inbreeding because these thresholds diverge. However, these models implicitly assume that if a focal individual avoids inbreeding, then both it and its rejected relative will subsequently outbreed. We show that relaxing this assumption of reciprocal outbreeding, and the assumption that focal individuals are themselves outbred, can substantially alter the predicted thresholds for inbreeding avoidance for focal males. Specifically, the magnitude of inbreeding depression below which inbreeding increases a focal male’s inclusive fitness increases with increasing depression in the offspring of a focal female and her alternative mate, and it decreases with increasing relatedness between a focal male and a focal female’s alternative mate, thereby altering the predicted zone of sexual conflict. Furthermore, a focal male’s inclusive fitness gain from avoiding inbreeding is reduced by indirect opportunity costs if his rejected relative breeds with another relative of his. By demonstrating that variation in relatedness and inbreeding can affect intra- and inter-sexual conflict over inbreeding, our models lead to novel predictions for family dynamics. Specifically, parent-offspring conflict over inbreeding might depend on the alternative mates of rejected relatives, and male-male competition over inbreeding might lead to mixed inbreeding strategies. Making testable quantitative predictions regarding inbreeding strategies occurring in nature will therefore require new models that explicitly capture variation in relatedness and inbreeding among interacting population members.
Compared with diploid species, haplodiploids suffer less inbreeding depression because male haploidy imposes purifying selection on recessive deleterious alleles. However, alleles of genes only expressed in the diploid females are protected in heterozygous individuals. This leads to the prediction that haplodiploids suffer more from inbreeding effects on life-history traits controlled by genes with female-limited expression. To test this, we used a wild population of the haplodiploid mite Tetranychus urticae. First, negative effects of inbreeding were investigated by comparing maturation rate, juvenile survival, oviposition rate and longevity between lines created by three generations of either outbreeding or mother–son inbreeding. Second, purging through inbreeding was investigated by comparing the intensity of inbreeding depression between outbred families with known inbreeding/outbreeding mating histories. Negative effects of inbreeding and evidence for purging were found for the female trait oviposition rate, but not for juvenile survival and longevity. Both male and female maturation rate were negatively affected by inbreeding, most likely due to maternal effects because inbred offspring of outbred mothers was not affected. These results support the hypothesis that, in haplodiploids inbreeding effects and genetic variation due to deleterious recessive alleles may depend on gender.
Inbreeding can slow population growth and elevate extinction risk. A small number of unrelated immigrants to an inbred population can substantially reduce inbreeding and improve fitness, but little attention has been paid to the sex-specific effects of immigrants on such "genetic rescue". We conducted two subsequent experiments to investigate demographic consequences of inbreeding and genetic rescue in guppies.
Populations established from pairs of full siblings that were descended either from two generations of full-sibling inbreeding or unrelated outbred guppies did not grow at different rates initially, but when the first generation offspring started breeding, outbred-founded populations grew more slowly than inbred-founded populations. In a second experiment, adding two outbred males to the inbred populations resulted in significantly faster population growth than in control populations where no immigrants were added. Adding females resulted in growth at a rate intermediate to the control and male-immigrant treatments.
The slower growth of the outbred-founded than inbred-founded populations is the opposite of what would be expected under inbreeding depression unless many deleterious recessive alleles had already been selectively purged in the inbreeding that preceded the start of the experiment, and that significant inbreeding depression occurred when the first generation offspring in outbred-founded populations started to inbreed. The second experiment revealed strong inbreeding depression in the inbred founded populations, despite the apparent lack thereof in these populations earlier on. Moreover, the fact that the addition of male immigrants resulted in the highest levels of population growth suggests that sex-specific genetic rescue may occur in promiscuous species, with male rescue resulting in higher levels of outbreeding than female rescue.
The formation of species in the absence of geographic barriers (i.e. sympatric speciation) remains one of the most controversial topics in evolutionary biology. While theoretical models have shown that this most extreme case of primary divergence-with-gene-flow is possible, only a handful of accepted empirical examples exist. And even for the most convincing examples uncertainties remain; complex histories of isolation and secondary contact can make species falsely appear to have originated by sympatric speciation. This alternative scenario is notoriously difficult to rule out. Midas cichlids inhabiting small and remote crater lakes in Nicaragua are traditionally considered to be one of the best examples of sympatric speciation and lend themselves to test the different evolutionary scenarios that could lead to apparent sympatric speciation since the system is relatively small and the source populations known. Here we reconstruct the evolutionary history of two small-scale radiations of Midas cichlids inhabiting crater lakes Apoyo and Xiloá through a comprehensive genomic data set. We find no signs of differential admixture of any of the sympatric species in the respective radiations. Together with coalescent simulations of different demographic models our results support a scenario of speciation that was initiated in sympatry and does not result from secondary contact of already partly diverged populations. Furthermore, several species seem to have diverged simultaneously, making Midas cichlids an empirical example of multispecies outcomes of sympatric speciation. Importantly, however, the demographic models strongly support an admixture event from the source population into both crater lakes shortly before the onset of the radiations within the lakes. This opens the possibility that the formation of reproductive barriers involved in sympatric speciation was facilitated by genetic variants that evolved in a period of isolation between the initial founding population and the secondary migrants that came from the same source population. Thus, the exact mechanisms by which these species arose might be different from what had been thought before.
Speciation is the main driver of biological diversity and how species arise is a central question in evolutionary biology. For speciation to occur in sexually reproducing organisms the exchange of genetic material (gene flow) between populations has to be reduced. Ultimately this has to be due to genetically determined reproductive incompatibilities between species. Yet, whether (an initial period of) geographic isolation is necessary for these incompatibilities to evolve has been subject to one of the most persistent debates in evolutionary biology. Sympatric speciation is the most extreme case of primary divergence-with-gene-flow and lies at the heart of this question. However, only few empirical examples of sympatric speciation are generally accepted and in most of these cases some ambiguities and doubts remain. This study provides evidence that the Nicaraguan crater lake cichlids can indeed be considered a valid example of sympatric speciation in the sense that the species themselves probably started to diverge in the absence of geographic barriers. However, the data also suggests that this divergence in sympatry may have been facilitated by genetic variants that evolved during a time of isolation between an initial founding population and a secondary wave of colonizers stemming from the same source population. This highlights the limitations in the definitions of sympatric speciation when the mosaic nature of genomes is taken into account: some of the genetic regions driving divergence may have evolved in allopatry while the populations themselves diverged in sympatry.
Profound knowledge of demographic history is a prerequisite for the understanding and inference of processes involved in the evolution of population differentiation and speciation. Together with new coalescent-based methods, the recent availability of genome-wide data enables investigation of differentiation and divergence processes at unprecedented depth. We combined two powerful approaches, full Approximate Bayesian Computation analysis (ABC) and pairwise sequentially Markovian coalescent modeling (PSMC), to reconstruct the demographic history of the split between two avian speciation model species, the pied flycatcher and collared flycatcher. Using whole-genome re-sequencing data from 20 individuals, we investigated 15 demographic models including different levels and patterns of gene flow, and changes in effective population size over time. ABC provided high support for recent (mode 0.3 my, range <0.7 my) species divergence, declines in effective population size of both species since their initial divergence, and unidirectional recent gene flow from pied flycatcher into collared flycatcher. The estimated divergence time and population size changes, supported by PSMC results, suggest that the ancestral species persisted through one of the glacial periods of middle Pleistocene and then split into two large populations that first increased in size before going through severe bottlenecks and expanding into their current ranges. Secondary contact appears to have been established after the last glacial maximum. The severity of the bottlenecks at the last glacial maximum is indicated by the discrepancy between current effective population sizes (20,000–80,000) and census sizes (5–50 million birds) of the two species. The recent divergence time challenges the supposition that avian speciation is a relatively slow process with extended times for intrinsic postzygotic reproductive barriers to evolve. Our study emphasizes the importance of using genome-wide data to unravel tangled demographic histories. Moreover, it constitutes one of the first examples of the inference of divergence history from genome-wide data in non-model species.
Demographic processes leave specific and detectable signatures within species genomes. Analysis of patterns of variation within and between closely related species can be used to unravel their divergence history and is crucial for understanding evolutionary processes such as speciation. We applied a set of novel population-genomic tools to investigate patterns of natural variation and infer demographic history of two avian speciation model species: pied flycatcher and collared flycatcher. The analysis supported a scenario consistent with allopatric speciation with recent, postglacial secondary contact. Most likely the ancestral species persisted through one of the glacial periods of the middle Pleistocene and then split into two large descendent populations that appear to have increased in size before experiencing severe bottlenecks during expansion into their current ranges. The two species established secondary contact after the last glacial maximum. This resulted in unidirectional gene flow from pied flycatcher to collared flycatcher. The results are consistent with a scenario where pied flycatcher recolonized northern Europe more rapidly than collared flycatcher. Our study increases the knowledge about the dynamics of the speciation process and constitutes one of the first examples of the inference of complex demographic history using information from genome-wide data in non-model species.
Deleterious mutations inevitably emerge in any evolutionary process and are speculated to decisively influence the structure of the genome. Meiosis, which is thought to play a major role in handling mutations on the population level, recombines chromosomes via non-randomly distributed hot spots for meiotic recombination. In many genomes, various types of genetic elements are distributed in patterns that are currently not well understood. In particular, important (essential) genes are arranged in clusters, which often cannot be explained by a functional relationship of the involved genes. Here we show by computer simulation that essential gene (EG) clustering provides a fitness benefit in handling deleterious mutations in sexual populations with variable levels of inbreeding and outbreeding. We find that recessive lethal mutations enforce a selective pressure towards clustered genome architectures. Our simulations correctly predict (i) the evolution of non-random distributions of meiotic crossovers, (ii) the genome-wide anti-correlation of meiotic crossovers and EG clustering, (iii) the evolution of EG enrichment in pericentromeric regions and (iv) the associated absence of meiotic crossovers (cold centromeres). Our results furthermore predict optimal crossover rates for yeast chromosomes, which match the experimentally determined rates. Using a Saccharomyces cerevisiae conditional mutator strain, we show that haploid lethal phenotypes result predominantly from mutation of single loci and generally do not impair mating, which leads to an accumulation of mutational load following meiosis and mating. We hypothesize that purging of deleterious mutations in essential genes constitutes an important factor driving meiotic crossover. Therefore, the increased robustness of populations to deleterious mutations, which arises from clustered genome architectures, may provide a significant selective force shaping crossover distribution. Our analysis reveals a new aspect of the evolution of genome architectures that complements insights about molecular constraints, such as the interference of pericentromeric crossovers with chromosome segregation.
Sexual life cycles constitute a costly alternative to vegetative modes of reproduction. Two categories of hypotheses seek to explain why sexual life cycles exist: those investigating the selective advantages that have driven the evolution of individual parts of this life cycle and those rationalizing the advantages sexual life cycles may offer as a whole, e.g., in extant species. Sex and recombination can be understood as efficient ways to interact with mutations and their consequences. Mutations occur at random and are mostly either deleterious or neutral. A prominent hypothesis suggests that sex and recombination are advantageous since they enhance the purging of such deleterious mutations and create individuals with a lower than average deleterious load. Deleterious mutations should co-determine the parameters that govern recombination of genomes in meiosis. Using an evolutionary computer simulation of diploid, unicellular sexual populations, we show that recessive lethal mutations can drive the evolution of chromosome architectures, in which essential genes become genetically linked into clusters. Evolved architectures exhibit structural properties and fitness similar to digitized yeast chromosomes and provide mutational purging capabilities superior to those of randomly generated or unclustered architectures. Our study demonstrates the importance of sexual cycles in the context of lethal mutations.
The transition to selfing in Capsella rubella accompanies its recent divergence from the ancestral outcrossing C. grandiflora species about 100,000 years ago. Whether the change in mating system was accompanied by the evolution of additional reproductive barriers that enforced species divergence remained unknown. Here, we show that C. rubella and C. grandiflora are reproductively separated by an endosperm-based, non-reciprocal postzygotic hybridization barrier. While hybridizations of C. rubella maternal plants with C. grandiflora pollen donors resulted in complete seed abortion caused by endosperm cellularization failure, the reciprocal hybridization resulted in the formation of small seeds with precociously cellularized endosperm. Strikingly, the transcriptomic response of both hybridizations mimicked respectively the response of paternal and maternal excess hybridizations in Arabidopsis thaliana, suggesting unbalanced genome strength causes hybridization failure in both species. These results provide strong support for the theory that crosses between plants of different mating systems will be unbalanced, with the outcrosser behaving like a plant of increased ploidy, evoking a response that resembles an interploidy-type seed failure. Seed incompatilibity of C. rubella pollinated by C. grandiflora followed the Bateson-Dobzhansky-Muller model, involving negative genetic interaction of multiple paternal C. grandiflora loci with at least one maternal C. rubella locus. Given that both species only recently diverged, our data suggest that a fast evolving mechanism underlies the post-zygotic hybridization barrier(s) separating both species.
Changes in mating system are supposed to change levels of sexual conflict, causing reduced conflict in inbreeding compared to outbreeding species. The recently diverged species pair of the inbreeding Capsella rubella and the outbreeding C. grandiflora provides the opportunity to test this hypothesis. While hybridizations of C. rubella maternal plants with C. grandiflora pollen donors gave rise to seeds with phenotypic similarities to paternal excess hybridizations in Arabidopsis thaliana, the reciprocal hybridization had similarities to maternal excess hybridizations. These results lend support to the hypothesis that selfing reduces sexual conflict, causing the outcrossing parent to have an increased effective ploidy compared to the selfing parent, resulting in unbalanced genome ratios after hybridization and seed failure. Seed failure correlates with either precocious or delayed endosperm cellularization, in agreement with the endosperm being the battleground for sexual conflict in flowering plants. C. grandiflora and C. rubella have only recently diverged, suggesting that the genes building the hybridization barrier are rapidly evolving as a consequence of sexual conflict.
In some species, populations with few founding individuals can be resilient to extreme inbreeding. Inbreeding seems to be the norm in the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, a flightless insect that, nevertheless, can reach large deme sizes and persist successfully. However, bed bugs can also be dispersed passively by humans, exposing inbred populations to gene flow from genetically distant populations. The introduction of genetic variation through this outbreeding could lead to increased fitness (heterosis) or be costly by causing a loss of local adaptation or exposing genetic incompatibility between populations (outbreeding depression). Here, we addressed how inbreeding within demes and outbreeding between distant populations impact fitness over two generations in this re-emerging public health pest. We compared fitness traits of families that were inbred (mimicking reproduction following a founder event) or outbred (mimicking reproduction following a gene flow event). We found that outbreeding led to increased starvation resistance compared to inbred families, but this benefit was lost after two generations of outbreeding. No other fitness benefits of outbreeding were observed in either generation, including no differences in fecundity between the two treatments. Resilience to inbreeding is likely to result from the history of small founder events in the bed bug. Outbreeding benefits may only be detectable under stress and when heterozygosity is maximized without disruption of coadaptation. We discuss the consequences of these results both in terms of inbreeding and outbreeding in populations with genetic and spatial structuring, as well as for the recent resurgence of bed bug populations.
Cimex lectularius; colonization; inbreeding; metapopulation dynamics; outbreeding depression
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.
chromosomal mutation; Dobzhansky–Muller model; hybrid sterility; hybrid inviability; Oka model; polyploidy
Biparental inbreeding, mating between two relatives, occurs at a low frequency in many natural plant populations, which also often have substantial rates of self-fertilization. Although biparental inbreeding is likely to influence the dynamics of inbreeding depression and the evolution of selfing rates, it has received limited theoretical attention in comparison to selfing. The only previous model suggested that biparental inbreeding can favour the maintenance of stable intermediate selfing rates, but made unrealistic assumptions about the genetic basis of inbreeding depression. Here we extend a genetic model of inbreeding depression, describing nearly recessive lethal mutations at a very large number of loci, to incorporate sib-mating. We also include a constant component of inbreeding depression modelling the effects of mildly deleterious, nearly additive alleles. We analyze how observed rates of sib-mating influence the mean number of heterozygous lethals alleles and inbreeding depression in a population reproducing by a mixture of self-fertilization, sib-mating and outcrossing. We finally use the ensuing relationship between equilibrium inbreeding depression and population selfing rate to infer the evolutionarily stable selfing rates expected under such a mixed mating system.
We show that for a given rate of inbreeding, sib-mating is more efficient at purging inbreeding depression than selfing, because homozygosity of lethals increases more gradually through sib-mating than through selfing. Because sib-mating promotes the purging of inbreeding depression and the evolution of selfing, our genetic model of inbreeding depression also predicts that sib-mating is unlikely to maintain stable intermediate selfing rates.
Our results imply that even low rates of sib-mating affect plant mating system evolution, by facilitating the evolution of selfing via more efficient purging of inbreeding depression. Alternative mechanisms, such as pollination ecology, are necessary to explain stable mixed selfing and outcrossing.
Mixed mating; Self-fertilization; Biparental inbreeding; Nearly recessive lethals; Mutation; Inbreeding depression
Although many theoretical models of sympatric speciation propose that genes responsible for assortative mating amongst incipient species should be associated with genomic regions protected from recombination, there are few data to support this theory. The malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is known for its sympatric cryptic species maintained by pre-mating reproductive isolation and its putative genomic islands of speciation, and is therefore an ideal model system for studying the genomic signature associated with incipient sympatric speciation. Here we selectively introgressed the island of divergence located in the pericentric region of the X chromosome of An. gambiae s.s. into its sister taxon An. coluzzii through 5 generations of backcrossing followed by two generations of crosses within the introgressed strains that resulted in An. coluzzii-like recombinant strains fixed for the M and S marker in the X chromosome island. The mating preference of recombinant strains was then tested by giving virgin recombinant individuals a choice of mates with X-islands matching and non-matching their own island type. We show through genetic analyses of transferred sperm that recombinant females consistently mated with matching island-type males thereby associating assortative mating genes with the X-island of divergence. Furthermore, full-genome sequencing confirmed that protein-coding differences between recombinant strains were limited to the experimentally swapped pericentromeric region. Finally, targeted-genome comparisons showed that a number of these unique differences were conserved in sympatric field populations, thereby revealing candidate speciation genes. The functional demonstration of a close association between speciation genes and the X-island of differentiation lends unprecedented support to island-of-speciation models of sympatric speciation facilitated by pericentric recombination suppression.
Anopheles gambiae is the most important vector of malaria in Africa. This species is undergoing speciation and a number of subpopulations have been identified which can produce viable hybrid offspring but are reproductively isolated through assortative mating and ecological adaptation. This complex structure provides an ideal system for studying the unique genetic and behavioural processes required for speciation. Anopheles gambiae’s subpopulations differ genetically in limited regions of their genomes called islands of speciation. Theoretical studies predict that these islands, characterized by restricted genetic rearrangements, may protect genes of assortative mating between emerging species, and are fundamental to the speciation process. We set out to test this prediction by performing complex genetic crosses between the sister species Anopheles coluzzii and Anopheles gambiae s.s. and creating recombinant strains differing only at their X-chromosome island of speciation. We show through behavioural studies that recombinant females consistently mated with matching island-type males thereby associating assortative mating genes with the X-island of divergence. By sequencing the genetic code of the recombinant strains and natural populations, we could confirm these findings and identify candidate assortative mating genes. These findings suggest an important role of divergence islands for the genetic and behavioural processes associated with speciation.
Species-rich adaptive radiations arising from rare plant and animal colonizers are common on remote volcanic archipelagoes. However, they present a paradox. The severe genetic bottleneck of founder events and effects of inbreeding depression, coupled with the inherently stressful volcanic environment, would seem to predict reduced evolutionary potential and increased risk of extinction, rather than rapid adaptive divergence and speciation. Significantly, eukaryotic genomes harbor many families of transposable elements (TEs) that are mobilized by genome shock; these elements may be the primary drivers of genetic reorganization and speciation on volcanic islands.
Presentation of the hypothesis
Here I propose that a central factor in the spectacular radiation and diversification of the endemic Hawaiian Drosophila and other terrestrial lineages on the Hawaiian and other oceanic islands has been repeated bursts of transposition of multiple TEs induced by the unique ecological features of volcanic habitats. Founder individuals and populations on remote volcanic islands experience significant levels of physiological and genomic stress as a consequence of both biotic and abiotic factors. This results in disruption of the usual epigenetic suppression of TEs, unleashing them to proliferate and spread, which in turn gives rise to novel genetic variation and remodels genomic regulatory circuits, facilitating rapid morphological, ecological and behavioral change, and adaptive radiation.
Testing the hypothesis
To obtain empirical support for the hypothesis, test organisms should be exposed to prolonged heat stress, high levels of carbon dioxide and other volcanic gases, along with inbreeding. Data from subsequent whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics screening for TE numbers and locations would then be compared with initial pre-exposure TE information for the test strains, a labor-intensive project. Several predicted outcomes arising from the hypothesis are discussed. Currently available data are consistent with the proposed concept of stress-induced TE mobilization as a trigger of evolutionary diversification and speciation on volcanic islands.
Implications of the hypothesis
The main implication is that both TEs and species should proliferate at a much higher rate on volcanic islands than elsewhere. Second, the evolvability of a lineage may correlate with the abundance and distribution of TEs in the genome. Successful colonizers of volcanic habitats with high genomic proportions of TEs may be best poised to found a speciose lineage that gives rise to a dramatic adaptive radiation. Colonizers that are depauperate in TEs are likely to be evolutionarily constrained and diversify little, if at all.
This article was reviewed by Dr. James Shapiro and Dr. Wolfgang Miller (nominated by Editorial Board member Dr. I. King Jordan).
Speciation; Adaptive radiation; Volcanic islands; Founder effects; Genomic stress; Environmental stress; Prolonged heat stress; TE mobilization; Transposition bursts; Genome remodeling
Conservation biologists routinely face the dilemma of keeping small, fragmented populations isolated, wherein inbreeding depression may ensue, or mixing such populations, which may exacerbate population declines via outbreeding depression. The joint evaluation of inbreeding and outbreeding risks in the wild cannot be readily conducted in endangered species, so a suggested ‘safe’ strategy is to mix ecologically and genetically similar populations. To evaluate this strategy, we carried out a reciprocal transplant experiment involving three neighboring populations of endangered Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) now bred in captivity and maintained in captive and wild environments. Pure, inbred, and outbred (first and second generation) cross types were released and recaptured in the wild to simultaneously test for local adaptation, inbreeding depression, and outbreeding depression. We found little evidence of inbreeding depression after one generation of inbreeding and little evidence of either heterosis or outbreeding depression via genetic incompatibilities after one or two generations of outbreeding. A trend for outbreeding depression via the loss of local adaptation was documented in one of three populations. The effects of inbreeding were not significantly different from the effects of outbreeding. Hence, at the geographic scale evaluated (34–50 km), inbreeding for one generation and outbreeding over two generations may have similar effects on the persistence of small populations. The results further suggested that outbreeding outcomes may be highly variable or unpredictable at small genetic distances. Our work highlights the necessity of evaluating the relative costs of inbreeding and outbreeding in the conservation and management of endangered species on a case-by-case basis.
Atlantic salmon; Canada; conservation; heterosis; local adaptation; risk assessment
Inbreeding depression is an important evolutionary factor, particularly when new habitats are colonized by few individuals. Then, inbreeding depression by drift could favour the establishment of later immigrants because their hybrid offspring would enjoy higher fitness. Rotifers are the only major zooplanktonic group where information on inbreeding depression is still critically scarce, despite the fact that in cyclical parthenogenetic rotifers males are haploid and could purge deleterious recessive alleles, thereby decreasing inbreeding depression.
We studied the effects of inbreeding in two populations of the cyclical parthenogenetic rotifer Brachionus plicatilis. For each population, we compared both the parental fertilization proportion and F1 fitness components from intraclonal (selfed) and interclonal (outcrossed) crosses. The parental fertilization proportion was similar for both types of crosses, suggesting that there is no mechanism to avoid selfing. In the F1 generation of both populations, we found evidence of inbreeding depression for the fitness components associated with asexual reproduction; whereas inbreeding depression was only found for one of the two sexual reproduction fitness components measured.
Our results show that rotifers, like other major zooplanktonic groups, can be affected by inbreeding depression in different stages of their life cycle. These results suggest that haplodiploidy does not purge efficiently deleterious recessive alleles. The inbreeding depression detected here has important implications when a rotifer population is founded and intraclonal crossing is likely to occur. Thus, during the foundation of new populations inbreeding depression may provide opportunities for new immigrants, increasing gene flow between populations, and affecting genetic differentiation.
During the Late Devonian Biodiversity Crisis, the primary driver of biodiversity decline was the dramatic reduction in speciation rates, not elevated extinction rates; however, the causes of speciation decline have been previously unstudied. Speciation, the formation of new species from ancestral populations, occurs by two primary allopatric mechanisms: vicariance, where the ancestral population is passively divided into two large subpopulations that later diverge and form two daughter species, and dispersal, in which a small subset of the ancestral population actively migrates then diverges to form a new species. Studies of modern and fossil clades typically document speciation by vicariance in much higher frequencies than speciation by dispersal. To assess the mechanism behind Late Devonian speciation reduction, speciation rates were calculated within stratigraphically constrained species-level phylogenetic hypotheses for three representative clades and mode of speciation at cladogenetic events was assessed across four clades in three phyla: Arthropoda, Brachiopoda, and Mollusca. In all cases, Devonian taxa exhibited a congruent reduction in speciation rate between the Middle Devonian pre-crisis interval and the Late Devonian crisis interval. Furthermore, speciation via vicariance is almost entirely absent during the crisis interval; most episodes of speciation during this time were due to dispersal. The shutdown of speciation by vicariance during this interval was related to widespread interbasinal species invasions. The lack of Late Devonian vicariance is diametrically opposed to the pattern observed in other geologic intervals, which suggests the loss of vicariant speciation attributable to species invasions during the Late Devonian was a causal factor in the biodiversity crisis. Similarly, modern ecosystems, in which invasive species are rampant, may be expected to exhibit similar shutdown of speciation by vicariance as an outcome of the modern biodiversity crisis.
Quantifying the effects of population bottlenecks and inbreeding on genetic variation underlying fitness in natural populations is central to understanding the potential limits to natural selection. One approach is to estimate heterosis in crosses between populations, thus revealing deleterious mutations that have become fixed within populations by random genetic drift. We estimated heterosis in selfing and outcrossing populations of Arabidopsis lyrata. We found massive heterosis in selfing populations, but strong heterosis even in outcrossing populations. Combined with other sources of information, our results suggest a common history of population bottlenecks, with possibly severe bottlenecks associated with the transition to selfing.
Quantifying the importance of random genetic drift in natural populations is central to understanding the potential limits to natural selection. One approach is to estimate the magnitude of heterosis, the increased fitness of progeny derived from crosses between populations relative to crosses within populations caused by the heterozygous masking of deleterious recessive or nearly recessive alleles that have been fixed by drift within populations. Self-fertilization is expected to reduce the effective population size by half relative to outcrossing, and population bottlenecks may be common during the transition to selfing. Therefore, chance fixation of deleterious alleles due to drift in selfing populations should increase heterosis between populations. Increased homozygosity due to fixation or loss of alleles should also decrease inbreeding depression within populations. Most populations of the perennial herb Arabidopsis lyrata ssp. lyrata are self-incompatible (SI), but several have evolved self-compatibility and are highly selfing. We quantified heterosis and inbreeding depression in two predominantly self-compatible (SC) and seven SI populations in a field common garden experiment within the species' native range and examined the correlation between these metrics to gauge the similarity in their genetic basis. We measured proportion germination in the lab, and survival and fecundity (flower and seed production) for 2 years in the field, and calculated estimates of cumulative fitness. We found 7.2-fold greater heterosis in SC compared with SI populations, despite substantial heterosis in SI populations (56 %). Inbreeding depression was >61 %, and not significantly different between SC and SI populations. There was no correlation between population estimates of heterosis and inbreeding depression, suggesting that they have somewhat different genetic bases. Combined with other sources of information, our results suggest a history of bottlenecks in all of these populations. The bottlenecks in SC populations may have been severe, but their strong inbreeding depression remains enigmatic.
Arabidopsis lyrata; drift load; effective population size; genetic load; genetic rescue; mating system evolution; purging; reproductive assurance
The human and chimpanzee X chromosomes are less divergent than expected based on autosomal divergence. We study incomplete lineage sorting patterns between humans, chimpanzees and gorillas to show that this low divergence can be entirely explained by megabase-sized regions comprising one-third of the X chromosome, where polymorphism in the human-chimpanzee ancestral species was severely reduced. We show that background selection can explain at most 10% of this reduction of diversity in the ancestor. Instead, we show that several strong selective sweeps in the ancestral species can explain it. We also report evidence of population specific sweeps in extant humans that overlap the regions of low diversity in the ancestral species. These regions further correspond to chromosomal sections shown to be devoid of Neanderthal introgression into modern humans. This suggests that the same X-linked regions that undergo selective sweeps are among the first to form reproductive barriers between diverging species. We hypothesize that meiotic drive is the underlying mechanism causing these two observations.
Because the speciation events that led to human, chimpanzee and gorilla were close in time, the genetic relationship of these species varies along the genome. While human and chimpanzee are the closest related species, in 15% of the genome, human and gorilla are more closely related, and in another 15% of the genome the chimpanzee and gorilla are more closely related—a phenomenon called incomplete lineage sorting (ILS). The amount and distribution of ILS can be predicted using population genetics theory and is affected by demography and selection in the ancestral populations. It was previously reported that the X chromosome, in contrast to autosomes, has less than the expected level of ILS. Using a full genome alignment of the X chromosome, we show that this low level of ILS affects only one third of the chromosome. Regions with low level of ILS also show reduced diversity in the extant populations of human and great apes and coincide with regions devoid of Neanderthal introgression. We propose that these regions are targets of selection and that they played a role in the formation of reproductive barriers.
Most empirical studies support a decline in speciation rates through time, although evidence for constant speciation rates also exists. Declining rates have been explained by invoking pre-existing niches, whereas constant rates have been attributed to non-adaptive processes such as sexual selection and mutation. Trends in speciation rate and the processes underlying it remain unclear, representing a critical information gap in understanding patterns of global diversity. Here we show that the temporal trend in the speciation rate can also be explained by frequency-dependent selection. We construct a frequency-dependent and DNA sequence-based model of speciation. We compare our model to empirical diversity patterns observed for cichlid fish and Darwin's finches, two classic systems for which speciation rates and richness data exist. Negative frequency-dependent selection predicts well both the declining speciation rate found in cichlid fish and explains their species richness. For groups like the Darwin's finches, in which speciation rates are constant and diversity is lower, speciation rate is better explained by a model without frequency-dependent selection. Our analysis shows that differences in diversity may be driven by incipient species abundance with frequency-dependent selection. Our results demonstrate that genetic-distance-based speciation and frequency-dependent selection are sufficient to explain the high diversity observed in natural systems and, importantly, predict decay through time in speciation rate in the absence of pre-existing niches.
Ecological opportunity, or filling a pre-existing unoccupied adaptive zone, is considered the dominant mechanism explaining the initial explosion of diversity. Although this type of niche filling can explain rates of diversification in some lineages, it is not sufficient for a radiation to occur. Instead of attributing the propensity to have an explosion of new species to external influences like niche availability, an alternative hypothesis can be based in frequency-dependent selection driven by the ecology in which organisms are embedded or endogenous sources mediated by gametes during fertilization. We show that genome diversification driven by higher reproductive probability of rare genotypes generates rapid initial speciation followed by a plateau with very low speciation rates, as shown by most empirical data. The absence of advantage of rare genotypes generates speciation events at constant rates. We predict decline over time and constant speciation rate in the cichlids and Darwin's finches, respectively, thus providing an alternative hypothesis for the origin of radiations and biodiversity in the absence of pre-existing niche filling. In addition to predicting observed temporal trends in diversification, our analysis also highlights new mechanistic models of evolutionary biodiversity dynamics that may become suitable to generate neutral models for testing observed patterns in speciation rates and species diversity.
Despite its role in homogenizing populations, hybridization has also been proposed as a means to generate new species. The conceptual basis for this idea is that hybridization can result in novel phenotypes through recombination between the parental genomes, allowing a hybrid population to occupy ecological niches unavailable to parental species. Here we present an alternative model of the evolution of reproductive isolation in hybrid populations that occurs as a simple consequence of selection against genetic incompatibilities. Unlike previous models of hybrid speciation, our model does not incorporate inbreeding, or assume that hybrids have an ecological or reproductive fitness advantage relative to parental populations. We show that reproductive isolation between hybrids and parental species can evolve frequently and rapidly under this model, even in the presence of substantial ongoing immigration from parental species and strong selection against hybrids. An interesting prediction of our model is that replicate hybrid populations formed from the same pair of parental species can evolve reproductive isolation from each other. This non-adaptive process can therefore generate patterns of species diversity and relatedness that resemble an adaptive radiation. Intriguingly, several known hybrid species exhibit patterns of reproductive isolation consistent with the predictions of our model.
Understanding the origin of species is one of the central challenges in evolutionary biology. It has been suggested that hybridization could generate new species because hybrids can display novel combinations of traits that induce reproductive isolation from their parental species (called “hybrid speciation”). Existing models predict that this should only occur in special cases, and indeed there have been only few well-supported examples. We describe a new model of hybrid reproductive isolation that results from selection against genetic incompatibilities in hybrids, which are predicted to be common. Simulations reveal that hybrid populations rapidly and frequently become isolated from parental species by fixing combinations of genes that hinder successful reproduction with parental species. We propose that this process could be an important mechanism for the formation of new species.
We propose a novel theory for the evolution of polyandry driven by genetic benefits to females whose offspring interbreed. In species with an ecology characterized by frequent colonization of new habitat patches, consanguineous matings may be common during the early stages of colonization, but genetic diversity may grow as new colonizers arrive. We show that with levels of inbreeding depression similar to those found in predominantly inbreeding populations, a polyandrous female can benefit her descendants since matings among her brood are mainly between half siblings rather than full siblings. We examine the invasion by a polyandrous phenotype using explicit genetic models in which costs of inbreeding are themselves subject to selection. In common with other models of inbreeding, we find that underlying high levels of inbreeding tend to purge deleterious recessive alleles, and hence these are unlikely to maintain sufficient inbreeding depression to favour polyandry. However, if costs of inbreeding are due to overdominance, biologically realistic levels of inbreeding depression result in genetic benefits large enough to favour polyandry provided it is not too costly. The potential significance of polyandry as a mechanism to reduce inbreeding in grandchildren will depend upon the genetic basis of inbreeding depression in natural, inbreeding populations.
deleterious recessive; inbreeding; overdominance; polyandry; modelling; multiple mating
The Anopheles gambiae species complex includes at least seven morphologically indistinguishable species, one of which, Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto, is the primary mosquito vector responsible for the transmission of malaria across sub-Saharan Africa. Sympatric ecological diversification of An. gambiae s.s. is in progress within this complex, leading to the emergence of at least two incipient species (the M and S molecular forms now recognized as good species and named An. coluzzii and An. gambiae respectively) that show heterogeneous levels of divergence in most parts of Africa. However, this process seems to have broken down in coastal areas of West Africa at the extreme edge of the distribution. We undertook a longitudinal study to describe An. gambiae s.s. populations collected from two inland transects with different ecological characteristics in south-eastern Senegal. Analysis of samples collected from 20 sites across these two transects showed the M and S molecular forms coexisted at almost all sampled sites. Overall, similar hybridization rates (2.16% and 1.86%) were recorded in the two transects; sites with relatively high frequencies of M/S hybrids (up to 7%) were clustered toward the north-western part of both transects, often near urban settings. Estimated inbreeding indices for this putative speciation event varied spatially (range: 0.52–1), with hybridization rates being generally lower than expected under panmictic conditions. Such observations suggest substantial reproductive isolation between the M and S molecular forms, and further support the ongoing process of speciation in these inland areas. According to a recent reclassification of the An. gambiae complex, the M and S molecular forms from this zone correspond to An. coluzzii and An. gambiae, respectively. There is considerable evidence that these molecular forms differ in their behavioural and ecological characteristics. Detailed study of these characteristics will allow the development and implementation of better insect control strategies for combating malaria.
We define a genetic species as a group of genetically compatible interbreeding natural populations that is genetically isolated from other such groups. This focus on genetic isolation rather than reproductive isolation distinguishes the Genetic Species Concept from the Biological Species Concept. Recognition of species that are genetically isolated (but not reproductively isolated) results in an enhanced understanding of biodiversity and the nature of speciation as well as speciation-based issues and evolution of mammals. We review criteria and methods for recognizing species of mammals and explore a theoretical scenario, the Bateson–Dobzhansky–Muller (BDM) model, for understanding and predicting genetic diversity and speciation in mammals. If the BDM model is operating in mammals, then genetically defined phylogroups would be predicted to occur within species defined by morphology, and phylogroups experiencing stabilizing selection will evolve genetic isolation without concomitant morphological diversification. Such species will be undetectable using classical skin and skull morphology (Morphological Species Concept). Using cytochrome-b data from sister species of mammals recognized by classical morphological studies, we estimated the number of phylogroups that exist within mammalian species and hypothesize that there will be >2,000 currently unrecognized species of mammals. Such an underestimation significantly affects conclusions on the nature of speciation in mammals, barriers associated with evolution of genetic isolation, estimates of biodiversity, design of conservation initiatives, zoonoses, and so on. A paradigm shift relative to this and other speciation-based issues will be needed. Data that will be effective in detecting these “morphologically cryptic genetic species” are genetic, especially DNA-sequence data. Application of the Genetic Species Concept uses genetic data from mitochondrial and nuclear genomes to identify species and species boundaries, the extent to which the integrity of the gene pool is protected, nature of hybridization (if present), and introgression. Genetic data are unique in understanding species because the use of genetic data 1) can quantify genetic divergence from different aspects of the genome (mitochondrial and nuclear genes, protein coding genes, regulatory genes, mobile DNA, microsatellites, chromosomal rearrangements, heterochromatin, etc.); 2) can provide divergence values that increase with time, providing an estimate of time since divergence; 3) can provide a population genetics perspective; 4) is less subject to convergence and parallelism relative to other sets of characters; 5) can identify monophyly, sister taxa, and presence or absence of introgression; and 6) can accurately identify hybrid individuals (kinship and source of hybrid individuals, F1s, backcrosses, direction of hybridization, and in concert with other data identify which hybrids are sterile or fertile). The proposed definition of the Genetic Species Concept is more compatible with a description of biodiversity of mammals than is “reproductively isolated species.” Genetic profiles of mammalian species will result in a genetic description of species and mammalian diversity, and such studies are being accelerated by technological advances that reduce cost and increase speed and efficiency of generating genetic data. We propose that this genetic revolution remain museum- and voucher specimen–based and that new names are based on a holotype (including associated tissues) deposited in an accredited museum.
Bateson–Dobzhansky–Muller model; cryptic species; cytochrome b; genetic isolation; Genetic Species Concept; hybrid zones; phylogroups; reproductive isolation; speciation in mammals
Analyses of speciation genes – genes that contribute to the cessation of gene flow between populations – can offer clues regarding the ecological settings, evolutionary forces and molecular mechanisms that drive the divergence of populations and species. This review discusses the identities and attributes of genes that contribute to reproductive isolation (RI) in plants, compares them with animal speciation genes and investigates what these genes can tell us about speciation.
Forty-one candidate speciation genes were identified in the plant literature. Of these, seven contributed to pre-pollination RI, one to post-pollination, prezygotic RI, eight to hybrid inviability, and 25 to hybrid sterility. Genes, gene families and genetic pathways that were frequently found to underlie the evolution of RI in different plant groups include the anthocyanin pathway and its regulators (pollinator isolation), S RNase-SI genes (unilateral incompatibility), disease resistance genes (hybrid necrosis), chimeric mitochondrial genes (cytoplasmic male sterility), and pentatricopeptide repeat family genes (cytoplasmic male sterility).
The most surprising conclusion from this review is that identities of genes underlying both prezygotic and postzygotic RI are often predictable in a broad sense from the phenotype of the reproductive barrier. Regulatory changes (both cis and trans) dominate the evolution of pre-pollination RI in plants, whereas a mix of regulatory mutations and changes in protein-coding genes underlie intrinsic postzygotic barriers. Also, loss-of-function mutations and copy number variation frequently contribute to RI. Although direct evidence of positive selection on speciation genes is surprisingly scarce in plants, analyses of gene family evolution, along with theoretical considerations, imply an important role for diversifying selection and genetic conflict in the evolution of RI. Unlike in animals, however, most candidate speciation genes in plants exhibit intraspecific polymorphism, consistent with an important role for stochastic forces and/or balancing selection in development of RI in plants.
Speciation; reproductive isolation; mating system isolation; pollinator isolation; ecological isolation; unilateral incompatibility; hybrid necrosis; hybrid sterility; hybrid inviability; hybrid breakdown; cytoplasmic male sterility; restoration
Many plants are perennial, but most studies of inbreeding depression and mating system evolution focus on annuals. This paper extends a population genetic model of inbreeding depression due to recessive deleterious mutations to perennials. The model incorporates life history and mating system variation, and multiplicative selection across many genetic loci. In the absence of substantial mitotic mutation, perennials have higher mean fitness and lower, or even negative, inbreeding depression than annuals with the same mating system. As in annuals, self fertilization exposes deleterious recessive mutations to selection, increasing mean fitness and decreasing inbreeding depression. Including mitotic mutation decreases mean fitness while increasing inbreeding depression. Perenniality introduces a kind of selective sieve, such that strongly recessive mutations contribute disproportionately to mean fitness and inbreeding depression. In the presence of high mitotic mutation, this selective sieve may provide a mechanistic basis for high inbreeding depression observed in some long lived perennials. Without substantial mitotic mutation, it is difficult to reconcile genetically based models of inbreeding depression with the empirical generalization that perennials outcross while related annuals self fertilize.
The evolution of sociality in spiders is associated with female bias, reproductive skew and an inbreeding mating system, factors that cause a reduction in effective population size and increase effects of genetic drift. These factors act to decrease the effectiveness of selection, thereby increasing the fixation probability of deleterious mutations. Comparative studies of closely related species with contrasting social traits and mating systems provide the opportunity to test consequences of low effective population size on the effectiveness of selection empirically. We used phylogenetic analyses of three inbred social spider species and seven outcrossing subsocial species of the genus Stegodyphus, and compared dN/dS ratios and codon usage bias between social Inbreeding and subsocial outcrossing mating systems to assess the effectiveness of selection. The overall results do not differ significantly between the social inbreeding and outcrossing species, but suggest a tendency for lower codon usage bias and higher dN/dS ratios in the social inbreeding species compared with their outcrossing congeners. The differences in dN/dS ratio and codon usage bias between social and subsocial species are modest but consistent with theoretical expectations of reduced effectiveness of selection in species with relatively low effective population size. The modest differences are consistent with relatively recent evolution of social mating systems. Additionally, the short terminal branches and lack of speciation of the social lineages, together with low genetic diversity lend support for the transient state of permanent sociality in spiders.
Effective population size; female biased sex‐ratio; inbreeding mating system; reproductive transition