Recombination can impede ecological speciation with gene flow by mixing locally adapted genotypes with maladapted migrant genotypes from a divergent population. In such a scenario, suppression of recombination can be selectively favoured. However, in finite populations evolving under the influence of random genetic drift, recombination can also facilitate adaptation by reducing Hill–Robertson interference between loci under selection. In this case, increased recombination rates can be favoured. Although these two major effects on recombination have been studied individually, their joint effect on ecological speciation with gene flow remains unexplored. Using a mathematical model, we investigated the evolution of recombination rates in two finite populations that exchange migrants while adapting to contrasting environments. Our results indicate a two-step dynamic where increased recombination is first favoured (in response to the Hill–Robertson effect), and then disfavoured, as the cost of recombining locally with maladapted migrant genotypes increases over time (the maladaptive gene flow effect). In larger populations, a stronger initial benefit for recombination was observed, whereas high migration rates intensify the long-term cost of recombination. These dynamics may have important implications for our understanding of the conditions that facilitate incipient speciation with gene flow and the evolution of recombination in finite populations.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3518952.
- Received June 5, 2016.
- Accepted October 4, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.