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FEMS Yeast Res. 2005 Dec;5(12):1141-50. Epub 2005 Jun 15.

Gradual genome stabilisation by progressive reduction of the Saccharomyces uvarum genome in an interspecific hybrid with Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Genetics, University of Debrecen, Hungary.


Considerable amounts of molecular and genetic data indicate that interspecific hybridisation may not be rare among natural strains of Saccharomyces sensu stricto. Although a post-zygotic barrier operating during meiosis usually prevents the production of viable spores, stable hybrids can arise which can even evolve into distinct species. This study was aimed to analyse the genome of a fertile Saccharomyces cerevisiae x S. uvarum hybrid and monitor its changes over four filial generations of viable spores. The molecular genetic analysis demonstrated that the two species did not contribute equally to the formation and stabilisation of the hybrid genome. S. cerevisiae provided the mitochondrial DNA and the more stable part of the nuclear genome. The S. uvarum part of the hybrid nuclear genome became progressively smaller by loosing complete chromosomes and genetic markers in the course of successive meiotic divisions. Certain S. uvarum chromosomes were eliminated and/or underwent rearrangements in interactions with S. cerevisiae chromosomes. Numerous S. uvarum chromosomes acquired S. cerevisiae telomere sequences. The gradual elimination of large parts of the S. uvarum genome was associated with a progressive increase of sporulation efficiency. We hypothesise that this sort of genomic alterations may contribute to speciation in Saccharomyces sensu stricto.

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