The evolution of hybrid fitness during speciation.


The evolution of postzygotic reproductive isolation is an important component of speciation. But before isolation is complete there is sometimes a phase of heterosis in which hybrid fitness exceeds that of the two parental species. The genetics and evolution of heterosis and postzygotic isolation have typically been studied in isolation, precluding the development of a unified theory of speciation. Here, we develop a model that incorporates both positive and negative gene interactions, and accounts for the evolution of both heterosis and postzygotic isolation. We parameterize the model with recent data on the fitness effects of 10,000 mutations in yeast, singly and in pairwise epistatic combinations. The model makes novel predictions about the types of interactions that contribute to declining hybrid fitness. We reproduce patterns familiar from earlier models of speciation (e.g. Haldane's Rule and Darwin's Corollary) and identify new mechanisms that may underlie these patterns. Our approach provides a general framework for integrating experimental data from gene interaction networks into speciation theory and makes new predictions about the genetic mechanisms of speciation.

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