In this paper, we review the literature on the growing body of data demonstrating the rapid evolution of sex and reproduction related (SRR) genes and show how a paradigm shift to the study of SRR genes can provide new approaches to solving some of the old problems in evolutionary biology. The argument is based on (1) the growing scope and importance of sexual selection in evolution, (2) the growing number of case studies showing rapid evolution of sexual traits in a wide variety of taxa, (3) the faster rate of DNA sequence divergence in genes affecting sexual function and fertility, (4) the evidence for the involvement of novel traits/genes in sexual functions, and (5) a proposed sex/non-sex dichotomy of the gene pool affecting viability versus fertility. It is argued that the adoption of the sex/non-sex dichotomy of genes / traits can provide new perspectives on such problems as species concepts, modes (allopatric/sympatric) of speciation, Haldane's rule, reinforcement, and the founder effect. It is proposed that the evolutionary study of genes affecting viability versus fertility is the key to understanding the genetic basis of speciation.
2000 by The Genetics Society of Japan