Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Butterflies show origin of species as an evolutionary process, not a single event

Date:
October 31, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
The evolution of new species might not be as hard as it seems, even when diverging populations remain in contact and continue to produce offspring. That's the conclusion of studies that examine the full genome sequences of 32 Heliconius butterflies from the Central American rain forest, representing five different species.

The evolution of new species might not be as hard as it seems, even when diverging populations remain in contact and continue to produce offspring. That's the conclusion of studies, reported in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports on Oct. 31, that examine the full genome sequences of 32 Heliconius butterflies from the Central American rain forest, representing five different species.
Credit: Marcus Kronforst

The evolution of new species might not be as hard as it seems, even when diverging populations remain in contact and continue to produce offspring. That's the conclusion of studies, reported in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports on October 31st, that examine the full genome sequences of 32 Heliconius butterflies from the Central American rain forest, representing five different species.

"The butterflies have performed a beautiful natural experiment for us that lets us address important questions about evolution," said Marcus Kronforst of the University of Chicago. "Even as biologists, we often think of the origin of new species as a moment in time when a new species splits from an old one, and this type of thinking is reflected in the evolutionary 'trees,' or phylogenies, that we draw. In reality, evolution is a long-term process that plays out in stages, and speciation is no different."

Kronforst and his colleagues found that the initial divergence between butterfly populations is restricted to a small fraction of the genome. In the case of the butterflies, the key genes are those involved in wing patterning. The butterfly species under study all have very different wing patterns, which are important in the butterflies' mating behavior and predator avoidance.

Comparison of those closely related, interbreeding species to a slightly more distant third species showed that hundreds of genomic changes had arisen rather quickly in evolutionary time sometime after those early differences took hold.

"We find that only a small fraction of the genome is markedly different between closely related species, but then much more of the genome -- more than you'd expect -- shows similar differences between more distantly related species," Kronforst explained. "That indicates that the genetic changes that are important for causing speciation are tightly clustered early in speciation, but not so later on in the process; the overall pattern of genome divergence starts slow and then skyrockets."

The researchers view the process as a kind of tug-of-war between natural selection and gene flow. The result in the case of the butterflies has been a rapid divergence of species, driven by a combination of new mutations and borrowed genes. The butterfly genomes also show that the same spots in the genome have been important in multiple speciation events.

"Beyond butterflies, it is possible that this type of speciation, in which natural selection for ecology causes the origin of new species, has been important in the evolution of other organisms," Kronforst said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marcus R. Kronforst, Matthew E.B. Hansen, Nicholas G. Crawford, Jason R. Gallant, Wei Zhang, Rob J. Kulathinal, Durrell D. Kapan, Sean P. Mullen. Hybridization reveals the evolving genomic architecture of speciation. Cell Reports, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.09.042

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Butterflies show origin of species as an evolutionary process, not a single event." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031124914.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, October 31). Butterflies show origin of species as an evolutionary process, not a single event. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031124914.htm
Cell Press. "Butterflies show origin of species as an evolutionary process, not a single event." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031124914.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Evolution of New Species Requires Few Genetic Changes

Oct. 31, 2013 Only a few genetic changes are needed to spur the evolution of new species—even if the original populations are still in contact and exchanging genes. Once started, however, evolutionary divergence ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins