A single-locus model of speciation

Acta Biotheoretica 40 (4):313-319 (1992)
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Abstract

The crucial phase of speciation is argued to be the evolution of mating cross-incompatibility (prezygotic incompatibility) between the genotypes distinguishing the prospective species populations. Based on this idea, a single-locus model of speciation is presented, which is shown to be biologically plausible and may help to settle the controversy as to the biological significance of single-locus modes of speciation. The model involves three alleles, two of which characterize in homozygous state the prospective species populations and in heterozygous state their hybrids. The third allele represents a mutant which is equivalent to one of the first two alleles with the exception that it inhibits mating with carriers of the third allele. This third allele is fixed in one population and immigrates into a second population which contains the mutant inhibiting matings with members of the former population. Migration in the reverse direction does not occur. Proceeding from a widely applicable concept of fitness and mating preference it is shown that postzygotic incompatibility (hybrid or heterozygote disadvantage) alone suffices to trigger evolutionary replacement of the extant mating relations in the population receiving immigrants by any arbitrary degree of prezygotic incompatibility. This corroborates Wallace's hypothesis and emphasizes the potential biological relevance of speciation by reinforcement (parapatric speciation) at single gene loci.

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