While the genetic basis of more and more traits is being unravelled, the complexity of the genome has remained underappreciated in making theories on one of the most important questions in evolution, how do species form? Most of the models of speciation make simplistic assumptions with respect to the genomic basis of potential traits under disruptive selection, or leading to reproductive isolation. We know recombination is heterogeneous across the genome (linkage blocks are often present, separated by hot spots of recombination) and it is likely that most genes act in epistasis (the effect of an allele depends on its genetic background) in their contribution to individual fitness. These two fundamental properties are likely interacting with natural or sexual selection regimes to lead to divergence between populations and speciation, but their relative influence on the divergence process is unknown. In this study, we propose tackling the question of the relationship between genome structure and eco-evolutionary divergence using individual-based models to simulate speciation under various scenarios of genomic complexity and ecological interactions and investigate their impact on diversification, and diversity. We will empirically test the link between recombination and divergence across the genome in a case study of malaria mosquitoes Anopheles gambiae showing putative ecological speciation mediated by reduced recombination. This project will help build a more integrative theory of speciation as well as in enhancing further research in research on malaria vectors.
Effectieve start/einddatum01/11/201701/02/2024