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BMC Genomics. 2014 Oct 25;15:932. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-932.

Unveiling nonessential gene deletions that confer significant morphological phenotypes beyond natural yeast strains.

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Department of Integrated Biosciences, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, University of Tokyo, Bldg, FSB-101, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa 277-8562, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.



Phenotypes are variable within species, with high phenotypic variation in the fitness and cell morphology of natural yeast strains due to genetic variation. A gene deletion collection of yeast laboratory strains also contains phenotypic variations, demonstrating the involvement of each gene and its specific function. However, to date, no study has compared the phenotypic variations between natural strains and gene deletion mutants in yeast.


The morphological variance was compared between 110 most distinct gene deletion strains and 36 typical natural yeast strains using a generalized linear model. The gene deletion strains had higher morphological variance than the natural strains. Thirty-six gene deletion mutants conferred significant morphological changes beyond that of the natural strains, revealing the importance of the genes with high genetic interaction and specific cellular functions for species conservation.


Based on the morphological analysis, we discovered gene deletion mutants whose morphologies were not seen in nature. Our multivariate approach to the morphological diversity provided a new insight into the evolution and species conservation of yeast.

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