Hybrid incompatibility (including sterility, lethality, and less extreme negative effects) interests evolutionary biologists because of its role in speciation as a reproductive isolating barrier. It also has unusual genetic properties, being mainly due to interactions between at least two genes. Recent studies have identified some of the interacting genes that underlie hybrid incompatibility. These genes represent a wide array of functions, including those involved in oxidative respiration, nuclear trafficking, DNA-binding, and plant defense. Accumulating evidence suggests genomic conflict frequently drives the divergence causing incompatibilities in hybrids. The evidence bearing on this genomic conflict hypothesis is assessed and ways to test it conclusively are suggested.
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