Ascus dysgenesis in hybrid crosses of Neurospora and Sordaria (Sordariaceae)
When two lineages derived from a common ancestor become reproductively isolated (e.g. Neurospora crassa and N. tetrasperma), genes that have undergone mutation and adaptive evolution in one lineage can potentially become dysfunctional when transferred into the other, since other genes have undergone mutation and evolution in the second lineage, and the derivedalleles were never ‘tested’ together before hybrid formation. Bateson (1909), Dobzhansky (1936), and Muller (1942) recognized that incompatibility between the derived alleles could potentially make the hybrid lethal, sterile, or display some other detriment. Alternatively, the detrimental effects seen in crosses with the hybrids may result from the silencing of ascus-development genes bymeiotic silencing by unpaired DNA (MSUD). Aberrant transcripts from genes improperly paired in meiosis are processed into single-stranded MSUD-associated small interfering RNA (masiRNA), which is used to degrade complementary mRNA. Recently, backcrosses of N. crassa / N. tetrasperma hybrid translocation strains with wild-type N. tetrasperma were found to elicit novel ascus dysgenesis phenotypes. One was a transmission ratio distortion that apparently disfavoured the homokaryotic ascospores formed following alternate segregation. Another was the production of heterokaryotic ascospores in eight-spored asci. Lewis (1969) also had reported sighting rare eight-spored asci with heterokaryotic ascospores in interspecific crosses in Sordaria, a related genus. Ordinarily, in both Neurospora and Sordaria, the ascospores are partitioned at the eight-nucleus stage, and ascospores in eight-spored asci are initially uninucleate. Evidently, in hybrid crosses of the family Sordariaceae, ascospore partitioning can be delayed until after one or more mitoses following the postmeiotic mitosis.
Volume 101, 2022
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