Incipient sympatric speciation in wild barley caused by geological-edaphic divergence

Kexin Li, Xifeng Ren, Xiaoying Song, Xiujuan Li, Yu Zhou, Eli Harlev, Dongfa Sun, Eviatar Nevo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sympatric speciation (SS) has been contentious since the idea was suggested by Darwin. Here, we show in wild barley SS due to geologic and edaphic divergence in “Evolution Plateau,” Upper Galilee, Israel. Our whole genome resequencing data showed SS separating between the progenitor old Senonian chalk and abutting derivative young Pleistocene basalt wild barley populations. The basalt wild barley species unfolds larger effective population size, lower recombination rates, and larger genetic diversity. Both species populations show similar descending trend ~200,000 yr ago associated with the last glacial maximum. Coalescent demography analysis indicates that SS was local, primary, in situ, and not due to a secondary contact from ex situ allopatric population. Adaptive divergent putatively selected genes were identified in both populations. Remarkably, disease resistant genes were selected in the wet basalt population, and genes related to flowering time, leading to temporal reproductive isolation, were selected in the chalk population. The evidence substantiates adaptive ecological SS in wild barley, highlighting the genome landscape during SS with gene flow, due to geologic-edaphic divergence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202000827
JournalLife Science Alliance
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Li et al.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Incipient sympatric speciation in wild barley caused by geological-edaphic divergence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this