• Interspecific hybridization is observed within various eukaryotic taxa.
• Globalization enhances the opportunity for hybridization events to occur.
• Hybridization often occurs under particular, often enigmatic, conditions.
• Hybridization affects microbial genome evolution and impacts pathogenicity.
• Stable hybrids are fitter than their parental lineages that may be outcompeted.
Interspecific hybridization is widely observed within diverse eukaryotic taxa, and is considered an important driver for genome evolution. As hybridization fuels genomic and transcriptional alterations, hybrids are adept to respond to environmental changes or to invade novel niches. This may be particularly relevant for organisms that establish symbiotic relationships with host organisms, such as mutualistic symbionts, endophytes and pathogens. The latter group is especially well-known for engaging in everlasting arms races with their hosts. Illustrated by the increased identification of hybrid pathogens with altered virulence or host ranges when compared with their parental lineages, it appears that hybridization is a strong driver for pathogen evolution, and may thus significantly impact agriculture and natural ecosystems.
Via Steve Marek