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The Microbiology of Speciation

The fields of microbial symbiosis and speciation have achieved astonishing advances during the past two decades, yet symbiosis and speciation are not commonly discussed together and can seem to be odd partners in their capacity to operate synergistically in nature. Indeed, microbial symbiosis is a process by which two or more distinct organisms interact as one entity, whereas speciation is the diversifying process by which one species splits into two. Yet, since the earliest hypotheses of the symbiotic nature of organelles within the eukaryotic cell, microbial symbiosis has been put forth as an engine of novelty owing to its capacity to confer new traits, and to augment the rate of evolution of genetically based reproductive barriers between incipient species. In this review, we describe three fundamental observations that justify a prominent role for microbes in eukaryotic speciation, consolidate exemplar studies of microbe-assisted speciation, and incorporate the microbiota into classic models of speciation. We suggest that as biologists weave symbiosis into classic models of speciation, Ivan Wallin's 1927 synthesis should be recognized for its rightful position as the initial and imaginative work on the microbiology of speciation.

Blog Post on The Story Behind the Article: http://symbionticism.blogspot.com/2012/04/story-behind-our-new-review-speciation.html

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