All genes interact with other genes, and their additive effects and epistatic interactions affect an organism's phenotype and fitness. Recent theoretical and empirical work has advanced our understanding of the role of multi-locus interactions in speciation. However, relating different models to one another and to empirical observations is challenging. This review focuses on multi-locus interactions that lead to reproductive isolation (RI) through reduced hybrid fitness. We first review theoretical approaches and show how recent work incorporating a mechanistic understanding of multi-locus interactions recapitulates earlier models, but also makes novel predictions concerning the build-up of RI. These include high variance in the build-up rate of RI among taxa, the emergence of strong incompatibilities producing localized barriers to introgression, and an effect of population size on the build-up of RI. We then review recent experimental approaches to detect multi-locus interactions underlying RI using genomic data. We argue that future studies would benefit from overlapping methods like ancestry disequilibrium scans, genome scans of differentiation and analyses of hybrid gene expression. Finally, we highlight a need for further overlap between theoretical and empirical work, and approaches that predict what kind of patterns multi-locus interactions resulting in incompatibilities will leave in genome-wide polymorphism data. This article is part of the theme issue 'Towards the completion of speciation: the evolution of reproductive isolation beyond the first barriers'.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 31 Aug 2020|
|MoE publication type||A2 Review article in a scientific journal|
- multi-locus interactions
- reproductive isolation