Genetic basis of speciation and adaptation: from loci to causative mutations

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2022 Jul 18;377(1855):20200503. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0503. Epub 2022 May 30.


Does evolution proceed in small steps or large leaps? How repeatable is evolution? How constrained is the evolutionary process? Answering these long-standing questions in evolutionary biology is indispensable for both understanding how extant biodiversity has evolved and predicting how organisms and ecosystems will respond to changing environments in the future. Understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic diversification and speciation in natural populations is key to properly answering these questions. The leap forward in genome sequencing technologies has made it increasingly easier to not only investigate the genetic architecture but also identify the variant sites underlying adaptation and speciation in natural populations. Furthermore, recent advances in genome editing technologies are making it possible to investigate the functions of each candidate gene in organisms from natural populations. In this article, we discuss how these recent technological advances enable the analysis of causative genes and mutations and how such analysis can help answer long-standing evolutionary biology questions. This article is part of the theme issue 'Genetic basis of adaptation and speciation: from loci to causative mutations'.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas; GWAS; QTL; convergent evolution; genome editing; pleiotropy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Adaptation, Physiological* / genetics
  • Ecosystem*
  • Mutation