I find myself straddling the fence a bit here compared to some of you. Everyone seems to agree - as do I - that the popular press has mangled the original research in its reporting. Some place the blame on the original authors lack of clarity and/or their own incorrect interpretations. I’ll grant there has been some unfortunate quotes from the authors that have led to some of the problems. When I reviewed the situation and focused on the YEC response I provided a fairly neutral response to the actual research and even provided a simply case of bottlenecking as an example of how some of their results could be understood. I knew then but have regretted more since,using such a simple example as if were the explanation.
The recent flair up of press again has made me go back and take another look. I’ve been working my way through literature I had not seen before when I wrote my response on BioLogos. I’m a bit more sympathetic to the original authors. Sure, I think they are ignoring some things and we have had many criticisms of their conclusions but their concerns and results they present are not without precedent. The “barcode” gap between species has been the subject of a fair amount of discussion and there is a really interesting set of literature that suggests that there are processes involved in mtDNA selection/sorting or a “scouring mechanism by which the within-species diversities of mtDNAs are decreased…” that isn’t fully appreciated to this point. The point being that there are still unknowns and while they may be wrong in their interpretation of the significance of similar amount of variation in many species the observation in mtDNA seems to be real and worth exploring and debating. They aren’t alone in this quest but the whole barcoding thing seems to have taken on a personal angle that causes strong opinions about studies such as this one. Those strong opinions result in the inflated and over-the-top claims.
I do know that the authors feels that most of the coverage resulting from their paper is far from what they were trying to say and they were very surprised that this paper has taken on a life of its own.
Just a few of the papers I’m reading that are relevant to this study:
Hill, Geoffrey E. "Mitonuclear coevolution as the genesis of speciation and the mitochondrial DNA barcode gap." Ecology and evolution 6, no. 16 (2016): 5831-5842. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.2338
Hill, Geoffrey E. "Mitonuclear Mate Choice: A Missing Component of Sexual Selection Theory?." BioEssays 40, no. 3 (2018): 1700191. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/bies.201700191
Gershoni, Moran, Alan R. Templeton, and Dan Mishmar. "Mitochondrial bioenergetics as a major motive force of speciation." Bioessays 31, no. 6 (2009): 642-650. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/bies.200800139
Forsdyke, Donald R. "Base composition, speciation, and barcoding." Trends in ecology & evolution 28, no. 2 (2013): 73-74. Base composition, speciation, and barcoding - ScienceDirect