Evolving Inversions

Trends Ecol Evol. 2019 Mar;34(3):239-248. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2018.12.005. Epub 2019 Jan 25.


Empirical data suggest that inversions in many species contain genes important for intraspecific divergence and speciation, yet mechanisms of evolution remain unclear. While genes inside an inversion are tightly linked, inversions are not static but evolve separately from the rest of the genome by new mutations, recombination within arrangements, and gene flux between arrangements. Inversion polymorphisms are maintained by different processes, for example, divergent or balancing selection, or a mix of multiple processes. Moreover, the relative roles of selection, drift, mutation, and recombination will change over the lifetime of an inversion and within its area of distribution. We believe inversions are central to the evolution of many species, but we need many more data and new models to understand the complex mechanisms involved.

Keywords: balanced polymorphism; divergent selection; genomic rearrangements; heterosis; local adaptation; speciation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Inversion / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Models, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*