Skip to main content

Dissecting speciation using a genomics approach

Article Category

Article available in the folowing languages:

Genomics elucidates new species appearance mechanism

Traditionally, reproductive isolation has been viewed as a prerequisite for speciation. However, the relatively new concept of genic speciation maintains that changes giving divergence in only a few appropriate loci are required to erect that reproductive barrier.


The RHINOSPEC (Dissecting speciation using a genomics approach) project investigated hybrid speciation and divergence in the Chinese rufous horseshoe bat, (Rhinolophus sinicus). Researchers included genetic events in three recently diverged taxa (groups of populations), R. s. septentrionalis, central R. s. sinicus and east R. s. sinicus. Combining next generation sequencing and a new statistical pipeline system, they looked for key loci and larger genomic islands that have resisted movement of elements of one gene pool to the other between the parental genes in the hybrid. The researchers first generated RNA sequencing data for the three focal taxa and three other horseshoe bats. Targeted resequencing was then applied to the R. pearsoni complex. Analysis of the RNA sequencing data for the R. sinicus complex has come up with three strands of evidence for hybridisation between the three populations. Using D-statistic analysis for fitting the population mixture strongly suggested introgression between Central R. s. sinicus and R. s. septentrionalis. Furthermore, an asymmetry in gene flow supporting one of the two non-species tree topologies indicated the occurrence of hybridisation between Central R. s. sinicus and R. s. septentrionalis. Targeted resequencing analysis continues after project close and recently the team has obtained sequences from mitochondrial protein coding genes from all samples. The phylogenetic analysis to date supports the tree topology from a previous study. The large amount of RHINOSPEC research data will no doubt contribute to understanding the role of hybridisation in species formation. There will also be potential benefits in areas of conservation, genetics and evolution.


Genomics, speciation, RHINOSPEC, Rhinolophus sinicus, RNA sequencing, targeted resequencing

Discover other articles in the same domain of application