skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


This content will become publicly available on February 1, 2025

Title: Genetics and the Evolution of Prezygotic Isolation
The significance of prezygotic isolation for speciation has been recognized at least since the Modern Synthesis. However, fundamental questions remain. For example, how are genetic associations between traits that contribute to prezygotic isolation maintained? What is the source of genetic variation underlying the evolution of these traits? And how do prezygotic barriers affect patterns of gene flow? We address these questions by reviewing genetic features shared across plants and animals that influence prezygotic isolation. Emerging technologies increasingly enable the identification and functional characterization of the genes involved, allowing us to test established theoretical expectations. Embedding these genes in their developmental context will allow further predictions about what constrains the evolution of prezygotic isolation. Ongoing improvements in statistical and computational tools will reveal how pre- and postzygotic isolation may differ in how they influence gene flow across the genome. Finally, we highlight opportunities for progress by combining theory with appropriate data.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1737889
NSF-PAR ID:
10501907
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology
Volume:
16
Issue:
2
ISSN:
1943-0264
Page Range / eLocation ID:
a041439
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. BACKGROUND Charles Darwin’s  Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex  tackled the two main controversies arising from the Origin of Species:  the evolution of humans from animal ancestors and the evolution of sexual ornaments. Most of the book focuses on the latter, Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. Research since supports his conjecture that songs, perfumes, and intricate dances evolve because they help secure mating partners. Evidence is overwhelming for a primary role of both male and female mate choice in sexual selection—not only through premating courtship but also through intimate interactions during and long after mating. But what makes one prospective mate more enticing than another? Darwin, shaped by misogyny and sexual prudery, invoked a “taste for the beautiful” without speculating on the origin of the “taste.” How to explain when the “final marriage ceremony” is between two rams? What of oral sex in bats, cloacal rubbing in bonobos, or the sexual spectrum in humans, all observable in Darwin’s time? By explaining desire through the lens of those male traits that caught his eyes and those of his gender and culture, Darwin elided these data in his theory of sexual evolution. Work since Darwin has focused on how traits and preferences coevolve. Preferences can evolve even if attractive signals only predict offspring attractiveness, but most attention has gone to the intuitive but tenuous premise that mating with gorgeous partners yields vigorous offspring. By focusing on those aspects of mating preferences that coevolve with male traits, many of Darwin’s influential followers have followed the same narrow path. The sexual selection debate in the 1980s was framed as “good genes versus runaway”: Do preferences coevolve with traits because traits predict genetic benefits, or simply because they are beautiful? To the broader world this is still the conversation. ADVANCES Even as they evolve toward ever-more-beautiful signals and healthier offspring, mate-choice mechanisms and courter traits are locked in an arms race of coercion and resistance, persuasion and skepticism. Traits favored by sexual selection often do so at the expense of chooser fitness, creating sexual conflict. Choosers then evolve preferences in response to the costs imposed by courters. Often, though, the current traits of courters tell us little about how preferences arise. Sensory systems are often tuned to nonsexual cues like food, favoring mating signals resembling those cues. And preferences can emerge simply from selection on choosing conspecifics. Sexual selection can therefore arise from chooser biases that have nothing to do with ornaments. Choice may occur before mating, as Darwin emphasized, but individuals mate multiple times and bias fertilization and offspring care toward favored partners. Mate choice can thus occur in myriad ways after mating, through behavioral, morphological, and physiological mechanisms. Like other biological traits, mating preferences vary among individuals and species along multiple dimensions. Some of this is likely adaptive, as different individuals will have different optimal mates. Indeed, mate choice may be more about choosing compatible partners than picking the “best” mate in the absolute sense. Compatibility-based choice can drive or reinforce genetic divergence and lead to speciation. The mechanisms underlying the “taste for the beautiful” determine whether mate choice accelerates or inhibits reproductive isolation. If preferences are learned from parents, or covary with ecological differences like the sensory environment, then choice can promote genetic divergence. If everyone shares preferences for attractive ornaments, then choice promotes gene flow between lineages. OUTLOOK Two major trends continue to shift the emphasis away from male “beauty” and toward how and why individuals make sexual choices. The first integrates neuroscience, genomics, and physiology. We need not limit ourselves to the feathers and dances that dazzled Darwin, which gives us a vastly richer picture of mate choice. The second is that despite persistent structural inequities in academia, a broader range of people study a broader range of questions. This new focus confirms Darwin’s insight that mate choice makes a primary contribution to sexual selection, but suggests that sexual selection is often tangential to mate choice. This conclusion challenges a persistent belief with sinister roots, whereby mate choice is all about male ornaments. Under this view, females evolve to prefer handsome males who provide healthy offspring, or alternatively, to express flighty whims for arbitrary traits. But mate-choice mechanisms also evolve for a host of other reasons Understanding mate choice mechanisms is key to understanding how sexual decisions underlie speciation and adaptation to environmental change. New theory and technology allow us to explicitly connect decision-making mechanisms with their evolutionary consequences. A century and a half after Darwin, we can shift our focus to females and males as choosers, rather than the gaudy by-products of mate choice. Mate choice mechanisms across domains of life. Sensory periphery for stimulus detection (yellow), brain for perceptual integration and evaluation (orange), and reproductive structures for postmating choice among pollen or sperm (teal). ILLUSTRATION: KELLIE HOLOSKI/ SCIENCE 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Incomplete speciation can be leveraged to associate phenotypes with genotypes, thus providing insights into the traits relevant to the reproductive isolation of diverging taxa. We investigate the genetic underpinnings of the phenotypic differences between Sporophila plumbea and Sporophila beltoni. Sporophila beltoni has only recently been described based, most notably, based on differences in bill coloration (yellow vs. black in S. plumbea). Both species are indistinguishable through mtDNA or reduced-representation genomic data, and even whole-genome sequencing revealed low genetic differentiation. Demographic reconstructions attribute this genetic homogeneity to gene flow, despite divergence in the order of millions of generations. We found a narrow hybrid zone in southern Brazil where genetically, yet not phenotypically, admixed individuals appear to be prevalent. Despite the overall low genetic differentiation, we identified 3 narrow peaks along the genome with highly differentiated SNPs. These regions harbor 6 genes, one of which is involved in pigmentation (EDN3) and is a candidate for controlling bill color. Within the outlier peaks, we found signatures of resistance to gene flow, as expected for islands of speciation. Our study shows how genes related to coloration traits are likely involved in generating prezygotic isolation and establishing species boundaries early in speciation.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The floras on chemically and physically challenging soils, such as gypsum, shale, and serpentine, are characterized by narrowly endemic species. The evolution of edaphic endemics may be facilitated or constrained by genetic correlations among traits contributing to adaptation and reproductive isolation across soil boundaries. The yellow monkeyflowers in the Mimulus guttatus species complex are an ideal system in which to examine these evolutionary patterns. To determine the genetic basis of adaptive and prezygotic isolating traits, we performed genetic mapping experiments with F2 hybrids derived from a cross between a serpentine endemic, M. nudatus, and its close relative M. guttatus. Few large effect and many small effect QTL contribute to interspecific divergence in life history, floral, and leaf traits, and a history of directional selection contributed to trait divergence. Loci contributing to adaptive traits and prezygotic reproductive isolation overlap, and their allelic effects are largely in the direction of species divergence. These loci contain promising candidate genes regulating flowering time and plant organ size. Together, our results suggest that genetic correlations among traits can facilitate the evolution of adaptation and speciation and may be a common feature of the genetic architecture of divergence between edaphic endemics and their widespread relatives.

     
    more » « less
  4. In theAllonemobius sociuscomplex of crickets, reproductive isolation is primarily accomplished via postmating prezygotic barriers. We tested seven protein-coding genes expressed in the male ejaculate for patterns of evolution consistent with a putative role as postmating prezygotic isolation genes.Our recently diverged species generally lacked sequence variation. As a result,ω-based tests were only mildly successful. Some of our genes showed evidence of elevatedωvalues on the internal branches of gene trees. In a couple genes these internal branches coincided with both species branching events of the species tree, betweenA. fasciatusand the other two species, and betweenA. sociusandA. sp. nov.Tex. In comparison, more successful approaches were those that took advantage of the varying degrees of lineage sorting and allele sharing among our young species. These approaches were particularly powerful within the contact zone. Among the genes we tested we found genes with genealogies that indicated relatively advanced degrees of lineage sorting across both allopatric and contact zone alleles. Within a contact zone between two members of the species complex, only a subset of genes maintained allelic segregation despite evidence of ongoing gene flow in other genes. The overlap in these analyses wasarginine kinase(AK) andapolipoprotein A-1 binding protein(APBP). These genes represent two of the first examples of sperm maturation, capacitation, and motility proteins with fixed non-synonymous substitutions between species-specific alleles that may lead to postmating prezygotic isolation. Both genes express ejaculate proteins transferred to females during copulation and were previously identified through comparative proteomics. We discuss the potential function of these genes in the context of the specific postmating prezygotic isolation phenotype among our species, namely conspecific sperm precedence and the superior ability of conspecific males to induce oviposition in females.

     
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The migration-selection balance often governs the evolution of lineages, and speciation with gene flow is now considered common across the tree of life. Ecological speciation is a process that can facilitate divergence despite gene flow due to strong selective pressures caused by ecological differences; however, the exact traits under selection are often unknown. The transition from freshwater to saltwater habitats provides strong selection targeting traits with osmoregulatory function. Several lineages of North American watersnakes (Nerodia spp.) are known to occur in saltwater habitat and represent a useful system for studying speciation by providing an opportunity to investigate gene flow and evaluate how species boundaries are maintained or degraded. We use double digest restriction-site associated DNA sequencing to characterize the migration-selection balance and test for evidence of ecological divergence within the Nerodia fasciata-clarkii complex in Florida. We find evidence of high intraspecific gene flow with a pattern of isolation-by-distance underlying subspecific lineages. However, we identify genetic structure indicative of reduced gene flow between inland and coastal lineages suggesting divergence due to isolation-by-environment. This pattern is consistent with observed environmental differences where the amount of admixture decreases with increased salinity. Furthermore, we identify significantly enriched terms related to osmoregulatory function among a set of candidate loci, including several genes that have been previously implicated in adaptation to salinity stress. Collectively, our results demonstrate that ecological differences, likely driven by salinity, cause strong divergent selection which promotes divergence in the N. fasciata-clarkii complex despite significant gene flow. 
    more » « less