Hybridization and speciation

Richard John Abbott, D Albach, S Ansell, J W Arntzen, S J E Baird, N Bierne, J Boughman, A Brelsford, C A Buerkle, R Buggs, R K Butlin, U Diekmann, F Eroukhmanoff, A Grill, S Helms Cahan, J S Hermansen, G Hewitt, A G Hudson, C Jiggins, J JonesB Keller, T Maczewski, J Mallet, P Martinez-Rodriguez, M Most, S Mullen, R Nichols, A W Nolte, C Parisod, K Pfennig, A M Rice, Michael Gordon Ritchie, B Seifert, C M Smadja, R Stelkens, J M Szymura, R Vainola, J B W Wolf, D Zinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1098 Citations (Scopus)


Hybridization has many and varied impacts on the process of speciation. Hybridization may slow or reverse differentiation by allowing gene flow and
recombination. It may accelerate speciation via adaptive introgression or cause
near-instantaneous speciation by allopolyploidization. It may have multiple effects at different stages and in different spatial contexts within a single speciation event. We offer a perspective on the context and evolutionary significance of hybridization during speciation, highlighting issues of current interest and debate. In secondary contact zones, it is uncertain if barriers to gene flow will be strengthened or broken down due to recombination and gene flow. Theory and empirical evidence suggest the latter is more likely, except within and around strongly selected genomic regions. Hybridization may contribute to speciation through the formation of new hybrid taxa, whereas introgression of a few loci may promote adaptive divergence and so facilitate speciation. Gene regulatory networks, epigenetic effects and the evolution of selfish genetic material in the genome suggest that the Dobzhansky–Muller model of hybrid incompatibilities requires a broader interpretation. Finally, although the incidence of reinforcement remains uncertain, this and other interactions in areas of sympatry may have knock-on effects on speciation both within and outside regions of hybridization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-246
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Hybrid species
  • Hybrid zone
  • Incompatability
  • Introgression
  • Reinforcement
  • Reproductive barrier


Dive into the research topics of 'Hybridization and speciation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this