Allopatric origins of microbial species

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although allopatric divergence is a well-accepted mechanism of speciation for eukaryotic macroorganisms, the importance of geographical barriers to divergence in microbial populations is a subject of great debate. Do geographically separated populations of micro-organisms diverge independently, or does their structure fit the often quoted Bass-Becking description 'everything is everywhere; the environment selects'? Aided by high-resolution genetic and genomic tools, the search for 'microbial marsupials' has revealed that in fact both are true; some species of micro-organisms demonstrate allopatric divergence, while others do not. This discovery opens the door for comparative analyses, where questions about the differences in evolutionary and ecological mechanisms that drive divergence and speciation in different microbial species can begin to be explored. Investigating these differences in evolutionary mechanisms will greatly enhance interest in, and understanding of, the dynamic processes that create and maintain the vast diversity of the microbial world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1975-1984
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1475
StatePublished - Nov 29 2006


  • Allopatric speciation
  • Biogeography
  • Genomics
  • Micro-organisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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