Evolutionary Consequences of Reproductive Strategies Testing Theory on Sex and Reproductive Gene Evolution in the Fungal Model Neurospora

Detta är en avhandling från Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Sammanfattning: In this thesis, I used the filamentous ascomycete genus Neurospora as a model to test theoretical predictions on the evolutionary consequences of different reproductive strategies and reproductive gene evolution. The genus Neurospora contains taxa representing a diversity of reproductive strategies, and here I constructed a phylogeny by which I was able to show that several independent transitions in reproductive mode have occurred in the evolutionary history of the genus. This feature makes Neurospora a suitable model for the evolution of reproductive modes. Molecular evolutionary analysis of housekeeping genes revealed an accelerated protein evolution in the highly inbreeding homothallic taxa, in accordance with theory predictions of lower efficiency of selection in asexual and highly inbreeding taxa. Furthermore, self-sterile (heterothallic) taxa capable of asexual propagation was found to be associated with a three-fold higher neutral substitution rate, indicative of a higher mutation accumulation due to elevated number of cell divisions per unit time in these taxa.Further, I have shown a general pattern of rapid evolution of genes involved in reproduction in Neurospora, thus extending the pattern of general high divergence of reproductive genes previously well known in animals, to fungi. Two rapidly evolving reproductive genes: the pheromone receptor genes pre-1 and pre-2 involved in mate recognition were studied in detail. For the gene pre-1 the rapid divergence was found to be driven by positive selection in both heterothallic and homothallic taxa. The rapid divergence of the pheromone receptor gene pre-2 cannot be explained by positive selection and for this gene a subtle differences in evolutionary constraints between heterothallic and homothallic taxa were found. The general similarity in evolutionary constraints of pre-genes in taxa of both mating-systems indicates that these genes serve other functions beside mate recognition.