Speciation by postzygotic isolation: forces, genes and molecules

Bioessays. 2000 Dec;22(12):1085-94. doi: 10.1002/1521-1878(200012)22:12<1085::AID-BIES6>3.0.CO;2-G.


New species arise as reproductive isolation evolves between diverging populations. Here we review recent work in the genetics of postzygotic reproductive isolation-the sterility and inviability of species hybrids. Over the last few years, research has taken two new directions. First, we have begun to learn a good deal about the population genetic forces driving the evolution of postzygotic isolation. It has, for instance, become increasingly clear that conflict-driven processes, like sexual selection and meiotic drive, may contribute to the evolution of hybrid sterility. Second, we have begun to learn something about the identity and molecular characteristics of the actual genes causing hybrid problems. Although molecular genetic data are limited, early findings suggest that "speciation genes" correspond to loci having normal functions within species and that these loci sometimes diverge as a consequence of evolution in gene regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Morphogenesis*
  • Phenotype
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Zygote / physiology*