Review. The genic view of plant speciation: recent progress and emerging questions.

Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3DS, UK.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 6.31). 07/2008; 363(1506):3023-36. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0078
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The genic view of the process of speciation is based on the notion that species isolation may be achieved by a modest number of genes. Although great strides have been made to characterize 'speciation genes' in some groups of animals, little is known about the nature of genic barriers to gene flow in plants. We review recent progress in the characterization of genic species barriers in plants with a focus on five 'model' genera: Mimulus (monkey flowers); Iris (irises); Helianthus (sunflowers); Silene (campions); and Populus (poplars, aspens, cottonwoods). The study species in all five genera are diploid in terms of meiotic behaviour, and chromosomal rearrangements are assumed to play a minor role in species isolation, with the exception of Helianthus for which data on the relative roles of chromosomal and genic isolation factors are available. Our review identifies the following key topics as being of special interest for future research: the role of intraspecific variation in speciation; the detection of balancing versus directional selection in speciation genetic studies; the timing of fixation of alleles of major versus minor effects during plant speciation; the likelihood of adaptive trait introgression; and the identification and characterization of speciation genes and speciation gene networks.

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