Conflictual speciation: species formation via genomic conflict

Trends Ecol Evol. 2013 Jan;28(1):48-57. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.08.015. Epub 2012 Sep 18.


A remarkable suite of forms of genomic conflict has recently been implicated in speciation. We propose that these diverse roles of genomic conflict in speciation processes can be unified using the concept of 'conflictual speciation'. Conflictual speciation centers on the evolution of reproductive isolation as a byproduct of antagonistic selection among genomic elements with divergent fitness interests. Intragenomic conflicts are expected to readily generate Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities, due to population-specific interactions between opposing elements, and thus they could be especially important in speciation. Moreover, selection from genomic conflicts should be relatively unrelenting across ecological and evolutionary time scales. We explain how intragenomic conflicts can promote, or sometimes constrain, speciation, and describe evidence relating conflicts to the evolution of reproductive isolation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Genome*
  • Genomic Imprinting
  • Humans
  • Plants
  • Reproductive Isolation
  • Selection, Genetic


  • DNA Transposable Elements