We are pleased to announce a one-day meeting to address the challenges in the field of speciation genomics. The meeting will be held on Monday 19th March 2018 at St Johns College Cambridge and is organised by Simon Martin, Mark Ravinet and Chris Jiggins.
We plan a format with six short talks by early career researchers working with data and theory in the morning. The afternoon will follow with opportunity for discussion led by more senior researchers.
Confirmed speakers so far include Anja Westram, Camille Roux, Joana Meier, Reto Burri, Dorothea Lindke and Simon Aeschbacher. Ole Seehausen, Konrad Lohse, and Roger Butlin are confirmed attendees and will help lead discussion groups.
Note that this meeting coincides with our annual EGGS meeting to be held the following day on the 20th March – we encourage you to attend both meetings.
Background: Thanks to new methods and advances in sequencing technology, generating genomic data for speciation research has never been so affordable, accessible or straightforward. Huge datasets of tens of thousands (and often many more) loci make it possible to estimate demographic history, identify signatures of divergent selection and quantify gene flow with considerable accuracy. This genomic perspective has changed our understanding of how the speciation process unfolds. Hybridisation and introgression need not be detrimental but instead may promote divergence through the formation of new species, the introduction of novel genetic variation and the introgression of adaptive alleles. Peaks and troughs of relative differentiation measures (i.e. FST) that emerged from early genome scan studies have been interpreted as putative ‘speciation islands’. The rationale is simple; strong divergent selection on barrier loci reduces effective migration at these targets and the loci closely linked to them. However, researchers using population genomic patterns to identify the processes and genes involved in speciation are beginning to recognize that factors such evolutionary history, recombination and mutation rate variation and gene density confound this interpretation of the genomic landscape.
There is now an opportunity to move beyond debate about the validity of identifying ‘speciation islands’. This meeting aims to bring together those working on the empirical and theoretical challenges that face speciation genomics. The meeting will begin with a series of short seminars from researchers using novel approaches to account for factors that confound our understanding of the genomic landscape and will build towards in-depth discussion in the later part of the day.
Relevant references with strangely similar titles:
Martin SH & Jiggins CD. 2017. Interpreting the genomic landscape of introgression. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 47: 69–74.