The genetic mosaic suggests a new role for hitchhiking in ecological speciation

Mol Ecol. 2008 Oct;17(19):4334-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.03921.x.


Early in ecological speciation, the genomically localized effects of divergent selection cause heterogeneity among loci in divergence between incipient species. We call this pattern of genomic variability in divergence the 'genetic mosaic of speciation'. Previous studies have used F(ST) outliers as a way to identify divergently selected genomic regions, but the nature of the relationship between outlier loci and quantitative trait loci (QTL) involved in reproductive isolation has not yet been quantified. Here, we show that F(ST) outliers between a pair of incipient species are significantly clustered around QTL for traits that cause ecologically based reproductive isolation. Around these key QTL, extensive 'divergence hitchhiking' occurs because reduced inter-race mating and negative selection decrease the opportunity for recombination between chromosomes bearing different locally adapted QTL alleles. Divergence hitchhiking is likely to greatly increase the opportunity for speciation in populations that are sympatric, regardless of whether initial divergence was sympatric or allopatric. Early in ecological speciation, analyses of population structure, gene flow or phylogeography based on different random or arbitrarily chosen neutral markers should be expected to conflict--only markers in divergently selected genomic regions will reveal the evolutionary history of adaptive divergence and ecologically based reproductive isolation. Species retain mosaic genomes for a very long time, and gene exchange in hybrid zones can vary dramatically among loci. However, in hybridizing species, the genomic regions that affect ecologically based reproductive isolation are difficult to distinguish from regions that have diverged for other reasons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aphids / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Ecosystem
  • Gene Flow
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mosaicism*
  • Peas / parasitology
  • Quantitative Trait Loci* / genetics
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Selection, Genetic


  • Genetic Markers