Study Reveals Speciation More Complicated Than Imagined

November 1, 2019
Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing) captive by S. Rae, Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World on Flickr

 

Jim Mallet and PhD students Nate Edelman (Mallet Lab) and Michael Miyagi (Desai & Wakeley Labs) have found evidence for widespread hybridization and gene flow between different species of Heliconius butterflies. The team looked at a group of neotropical butterflies and found that different species have been hybridizing with each other throughout their millions-of-years-old history. They developed a new method to identify parts of the genome that were particularly impacted by hybridization and showed the process of recombination is widespread and important to the evolutionary process.The study, published in Science Magazine shows the messiness of the speciation process and that the definition of a species is more complicated than even Darwin had imagined! An impressive study and the coveted cover image for the issue. Harvard Magazine


Images: Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing) captive by S. Rae, Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World on Flickr