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Islands in the Genome Promote Speciation

archers suggested that genes present here may be responsible for early speciation. These three “speciation islands?in the genome contain 67 predicted genes. In a preliminary analysis of seven of these genes, Turner and colleagues identified five that are different between the two Anopheles forms; these include genes that play a role in a range of cellular processes, including energy metabolism, response to sudden increases in temperature (heat shock), and ion transport across cell membranes. Future work focusing on the 67 genes hypothesized to reside in the divergent regions should yield interesting clues to the identity of genes that drive speciation, and the mechanism by which they do so.

This is a significant finding in the field of speciation research: in terms of methodology, this study shows that DNA microarrays can be used to identify regions of the genome that are different between two diverging species, allowing researchers to home in on potentially interesting genes. This study also shows that in spite of possible cross-flow of genetic material (natural hybrids between the two forms are found at a low frequency) between two populations, the populations can still be accumulating differences in their genomes—differences that could eventually lead to the formation of new species. Comparing results in Anopheles and the well-studied insect model Drosophila, in which scientists have also started identifying “speciation genes,?should tell us if similar genes are employed repeatedly in different genera during the formation of new species.


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Source:PLoS Biology


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