Hybrids and horizontal transfer: introgression allows adaptive allele discovery.
Evolution has devised countless remarkable solutions to diverse challenges. Understanding the mechanistic basis of these solutions provides insights into how biological systems can be subtly tweaked without maladaptive consequences. The knowledge gained from illuminating these mechanisms is equally important to our understanding of fundamental evolutionary mechanisms as it is to our hopes of developing truly rational plant breeding and synthetic biology. In particular, modern population genomic approaches are proving very powerful in the detection of candidate alleles for mediating consequential adaptations that can be tested functionally. Especially striking are signals gained from contexts involving genetic transfers between populations, closely related species, or indeed between kingdoms. Here we discuss two major classes of these scenarios, adaptive introgression and horizontal gene flow, illustrating discoveries made across kingdoms.