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Repeated evolution of reproductive isolation in a marine snail - unveiling mechanisms of speciation

Journal article
Authors Kerstin Johannesson
Marina Panova
Petri Kemppainen
Carl André
Emilio Rolán-Alvarez
Roger Butlin
Published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Biology
Volume 365
Issue 1547
Pages 1735-1747
ISSN 0962-8436
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Marine Ecology
Pages 1735-1747
Language en
Keywords Littorina saxatilis, speciation, marine ecology
Subject categories Genetics, Marine ecology


Distinct ecotypes of the snail Littorina saxatilis, each linked to a specific shore microhabitat, form a mosaic-like pattern with narrow hybrid zones in between, over which gene flow is 10–30% of within-ecotype gene flow. Multi-locus comparisons cluster populations by geographic affinity independent of ecotype, while loci under selection group populations by ecotype. The repeated occurrence of partially reproductively isolated ecotypes and the conflicting patterns in neutral and selected genes can either be explained by separation in allopatry followed by secondary overlap and extensive introgression that homogenizes neutral differences evolved under allopatry, or by repeated evolution in parapatry, or in sympatry, with the same ecotypes appearing in each local site. Data from Spain, the UK and Sweden give stronger support for a non-allopatric model of ecotype formation than for an allopatric model. Several different non-allopatric mechanisms can, however, explain the repeated evolution of the ecotypes: (i) parallel evolution by new mutations in different populations; (ii) evolution from standing genetic variation; and (iii) evolution in concert with rapid spread of new positive mutations among populations inhabiting similar environments. These models make different predictions that can be tested using comprehensive phylogenetic information combined with candidate loci sequencing.

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