Monday, February 22, 2010

Rock-Paper-Scissors

Don't forget to bring a list of topics to class tomorrow. It should be complete through week 7. Indicate which topic you already wrote about in class.

In the latest PNAS: Selective loss of polymorphic mating types is associated with rapid phenotypic evolution during morphic speciation
Abstract: Polymorphism may play an important role in speciation because new species could originate from the distinctive morphs observed in polymorphic populations. However, much remains to be understood about the process by which morphs found new species. To detail the steps of this mode of speciation, we studied the geographic variation and evolutionary history of a throat color polymorphism that distinguishes the “rock-paper-scissors” mating strategies of the side-blotched lizard, Uta stansburiana. We found that the polymorphism is geographically widespread and has been maintained for millions of years. However, there are many populations with reduced numbers of throat color morphs. Phylogenetic reconstruction showed that the polymorphism is ancestral, but it has been independently lost eight times, often giving rise to morphologically distinct subspecies/species. Changes to the polymorphism likely involved selection because the allele for one particular male strategy, the “sneaker” morph, has been lost in all cases. Polymorphism loss was associated with accelerated evolution of male size, female size, and sexual dimorphism, which suggests that polymorphism loss can promote rapid divergence among populations and aid species formation.

The paper was also summarized at Science Daily Evolutionary Game of Rock-Paper-Scissors May Lead to New Species.

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