Current models of speciation assume that species arise when nuclear genotypes diverge following the disruption of gene flow between populations. This chapter explores the idea that speciation is specifically the result of divergence in coadapted mitonuclear gene complexes with divergence of most nuclear genes playing little or no role in speciation. To maintain mitonuclear coadaptation, nuclear genes must coevolve with rapidly changing mitochondrial genes. According to the mitonuclear compatibility concept of species, mitonuclear coevolution in isolated populations leads to speciation because population-specific mitonuclear coadaptations create between-population mitonuclear incompatibilities and hence barriers to gene flow between populations. In addition, selection for adaptive divergence of products of mitochondrial genes can lead to rapid fixation of novel mitochondrial genotypes between populations and consequently to disruption in gene flow between populations as the initiating step in animal speciation. The chapter considers the evidence for the involvement of mitonuclear compatibility in the process of speciation and the implications for this new concept of speciation and species.
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