Genomics of plant speciation




Bock, Dan G.
Cai, Zhe
Elphinstone, Cassandra
González-Segovia, Eric
Hirabayashi, Kaede
Huang, Kaichi
Keais, Graeme L.
Kim, Amy
Owens, Gregory L.
Rieseberg, Loren H.

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Plant Communications


Studies of plants have been instrumental for revealing how new species originate. For several decades, botanical research has complemented and, in some cases, challenged concepts on speciation developed via the study of other organisms while also revealing additional ways in which species can form. Now, the ability to sequence genomes at an unprecedented pace and scale has allowed biologists to settle decades-long debates and tackle other emerging challenges in speciation research. Here, we review these recent genome-enabled developments in plant speciation. We discuss complications related to identification of reproductive isolation (RI) loci using analyses of the landscape of genomic divergence and highlight the important role that structural variants have in speciation, as increasingly revealed by new sequencing technologies. Further, we review how genomics has advanced what we know of some routes to new species formation, like hybridization or whole-genome duplication, while casting doubt on others, like population bottlenecks and genetic drift. While genomics can fast-track identification of genes and mutations that confer RI, we emphasize that follow-up molecular and field experiments remain critical. Nonetheless, genomics has clarified the outsized role of ancient variants rather than new mutations, particularly early during speciation. We conclude by highlighting promising avenues of future study. These include expanding what we know so far about the role of epigenetic and structural changes during speciation, broadening the scope and taxonomic breadth of plant speciation genomics studies, and synthesizing information from extensive genomic data that have already been generated by the plant speciation community.



genomic islands of speciation, structural variation, hybrid speciation, polyploid speciation, reproductive isolation, standing genetic variation


Bock, D. G., Cai, Z., Elphinstone, C., González-Segovia, E., Hirabayashi, K., Huang, K., … Rieseberg, L. H. (2023). Genomics of plant speciation. Plant Communications, 4(5), 100599.