Chromosome speciation: Humans, Drosophila, and mosquitoes
Chromosome rearrangements (such as inversions, fusions, and fissions) may play significant roles in the speciation between parapatric (contiguous) or partly sympatric (geographically overlapping) populations. According to the hybrid-dysfunction model, speciation occurs because hybrids with heterozygous chromosome rearrangements produce dysfunctional gametes and thus have low reproductive fitness. Natural selection will, therefore, promote mutations that reduce the probability of intercrossing between populations carrying different rearrangements and thus promote their reproductive isolation. This model encounters a disabling difficulty: namely, how to account for the spread in a population of a chromosome rearrangement after it first arises as a mutation in a single individual. The suppressed-recombination model of speciation points out that chromosome rearrangements act as a genetic filter between populations. Mutations associated with the rearranged chromosomes cannot flow from one to another population, whereas genetic exchange will freely occur between colinear chromosomes. Mutations adaptive to local conditions will, therefore, accumulate differentially in the protected chromosome regions so that parapatric or partially sympatric populations will genetically differentiate, eventually evolving into different species. The speciation model of suppressed recombination has recently been tested by gene and DNA sequence comparisons between humans and chimpanzees, between Drosophila species, and between species related to Anopheles gambiae, the vector of malignant malaria in Africa.