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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2005;43:279-308.

Mechanisms of fungal speciation.

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Department of Botany, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 1C6.


The objective of this review is to provide a synthesis of speciation theory, of what is known about mechanisms of speciation in fungi and from this, what is expected, and of ideas on how speciation can be elucidated in more fungal systems. The emphasis is on process rather than pattern. Phylogeographic studies in some groups, such as the agarics, demonstrate predominantly allopatric speciation, often through vicariance, as seen in many plants and animals. The variety of life history factors in fungi suggests, however, a diversity in speciation mechanisms that is borne out in comparison of some key examples. Life history features in fungi with a bearing on speciation include genetic mechanisms for intra- and interspecies interactions, haploidy as monokaryons, dikaryons, or coenocytes, distinctive types of propagules with distinctive modes of dispersal, as well as characteristic relationships to the substrate or host as specialized or generalist saprotrophs, parasites or mutualists with associated opportunities and selective pressures for hybridization. Approaches are proposed for both retrospective, phylogeographic determination of speciation mechanisms, and experimental studies with the potential for genomic applications, particularly in examining the relationship between adaptation and reproductive isolation.

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