Thursday, April 11, 2024

“Hybrid Incompatibility” gives rise to Speciation

 Researchers at Stanford University recently looked at genes within swordtail fish species in order to study “hybrid incompatibility.”  This is where the offspring of two different species that can mate with each other end up having health problems and don’t survive as they develop.  The specific species used for this study were sheephead swordtails and highland swordtails.  For awhile scientists haven’t fully understood this phenomenon of hybrid incompatibility at the genetic level.  However the Stanford scientists discovered a set of genes called the “Complex I genes,” which are involved in the development problems of the hybrids of swordtail species.  They found that certain combinations of these genes lead to the creation of protein complexes that don’t work and end up harming the offspring.  As a result, this hybrid incompatibility leads to species becoming more distinct from one another.

The article used an example that I immediately thought of while reading this, which was a horse and a donkey creating an infertile mule.  Hybrid incompatibility is interesting, in how two animals can breed with each other but produce unviable offspring.  However the article was slightly confusing in that it talked about how “hybrid incompatibility” drives speciation.  The two species used in the study… are already two distinct species.  I guess the phenomenon just prevents species from sharing their genes with one another, helping to make them more distinct.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Joseph, your post was an awesome read, it definitely took me back to topics learned in biodiversity. I also thought the findings of the "complex I" genes was super interesting, it makes me wonder what other species have these complex I genes. I also loved your own example you added at the end, I felt like it made the content easier to understand!