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1.  Progress and Promise in using Arabidopsis to Study Adaptation, Divergence, and Speciation 
Fundamental questions remain to be answered on how lineages split and new species form. The Arabidopsis genus, with several increasingly well characterized species closely related to the model system A. thaliana, provides a rare opportunity to address key questions in speciation research. Arabidopsis species, and in some cases populations within a species, vary considerably in their habitat preferences, adaptations to local environments, mating system, life history strategy, genome structure and chromosome number. These differences provide numerous open doors for understanding the role these factors play in population divergence and how they may cause barriers to arise among nascent species. Molecular tools available in A. thaliana are widely applicable to its relatives, and together with modern comparative genomic approaches they will provide new and increasingly mechanistic insights into the processes underpinning lineage divergence and speciation. We will discuss recent progress in understanding the molecular basis of local adaptation, reproductive isolation and genetic incompatibility, focusing on work utilizing the Arabidopsis genus, and will highlight several areas in which additional research will provide meaningful insights into adaptation and speciation processes in this genus.
PMCID: PMC3244966  PMID: 22303263

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