PerspectiveEvolution

Mapping footprints of past genetic exchange

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Science  01 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6465, pp. 570-571
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz1576

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Summary

Controversies in evolutionary biology can linger for centuries. This is not because evolutionary biologists are unusually contentious, but rather because evolution is a challenging science that involves the reconstruction of events tracing back more than 3.7 billion years. Also, evolutionary processes common to one organismal group may be absent in another. Thus, generalizations about evolution must be built on studies of many taxa, with the recognition that exceptions to every rule are likely. Given these challenges, celebrations should be had when major controversies are put to rest. On page 594 of this issue, Edelman et al. (1) help bring one such controversy to a close by demonstrating the importance of hybridization (interbreeding between species) in the diversification of Heliconius butterflies. They also develop a new technique to disentangle genomic patterns caused by hybridization from those caused by stochastic processes within species.

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