Like the snap of a clothespin, the sudden mixing of closely related species may occasionally provide the energy to impel rapid evolutionary change, according to a new report by researchers from Indiana University Bloomington and three other institutions. Their paper was made available online by Science magazine´s "Science Express" service.
A study of sunflower species that began 15 years ago shows that the sudden mixing and matching of different species´ genes can create genetic super-combinations that are considerably more advantageous to the survival and reproduction of their owners than the gene combinations their parents possess.
"This is the clearest evidence to date that hybridization can be evolutionarily important," said IUB biologist Loren Rieseberg, who led the research. "What´s more, we were able to demonstrate a possible mechanism for rapid evolutionary change by replicating the births of three unusual and ecologically divergent species within an extremely short period of time -- just a few generations."
David Bricker | Indiana Universty
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