A growing body of evidence suggests that rates of diversification of biological lineages are correlated with differences in genome-wide mutation rate. Given that most research into differential patterns of diversification rate have focused on species traits or ecological parameters, a connection to the biochemical processes of genome change is an unexpected observation. While the empirical evidence for a significant association between mutation rate and diversification rate is mounting, there has been less effort in explaining the factors that mediate this connection between genetic change and species richness. Here I draw together theoretical concepts that may help to build links in the explanatory chain that connects mutation to diversification, from mutation to substitution to speciation and to diversification, as well as empirical evidence for these links, focusing on phylogenetic comparative studies. I then propose approaches to study these links under the same mathematical and statistical framework.
Xia Hua received her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from The State University of New York at Stony Brook in December of 2012. Her dissertation research focuses on the influence of climate to speciation, from both empirical and theoretical perspectives. Since 2013, she is a postdoctoral fellow in the Bromham lab at The Australian National University. She develops mathematical and statistical approaches to study biological processes from molecular level, population level, to lineage level.
X. Hua, L. Bromham. 2017. Darwinism for the genomic age: connecting mutation to diversification. Frontiers in Genetics 8:12.
X. Hua. 2016. The impact of seasonality on niche breadth, distribution range and species richness: A theoretical exploration of Janzen’s hypothesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 283: 20160349.
X. Hua, P. F. Cowman, D. Warren, L. Bromham. 2015. Longevity is linked to mitochondrial mutation rates in rockfish: a test using Poisson regression. Molecular Biology and Evolution 32:2633–2645.
L. Bromham, X. Hua, R. Lanfear, P. F. Cowman. 2015. Exploring the relationships between mutation rates, life history, genome size, environment and species richness in flowering plants. American Naturalist 185:507–524.
X. Hua, and J. J. Wiens. 2013. How does climate influence speciation? American Naturalist 182:1–12.