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Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior

Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior News

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Study tracks genomic changes that reinforce darter speciation

Researchers sequenced the genome of the orangethroat darter, pictured, and compared it with that of the rainbow darter, a closely related species. They also hybridized the two species to determine the factors that drive them to diverge.

When they share habitat, orangethroat and rainbow darters tend to avoid one another, even though they are closely related and can produce “hybrid” offspring. The males compete with males of their own species and will almost always ignore females of the other species. A new study offers an analysis of the genomic changes that occur when these fish hybridize, offering insight into the gradual accumulation of incompatible traits that likely drives them to diverge.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Scientists have spent decades trying to understand the factors that allow closely related organisms to evolve into separate species, said Becky Fuller, a University of Illinois professor of evolution, ecology and behavior who led the research with study lead author Rachel Moran. Now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota, Moran conducted the research as a graduate student in Fuller’s lab.

Read the full article at the Illinois News Bureau


Publication Date: 02/07/2020
Photo credits: Lance Merry
Editor: Diana Yates