Fitness distribution and transgressive segregation across 40 environments in a hybrid progeny population of the human-pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The opportunistic human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans includes two varieties, C. neoformans var. grubii and C. neoformans var. neoformans, which correspond to serotypes A and D, respectively. Recent population genetic studies revealed that multiple natural hybridizations have occurred recently between these two divergent lineages. However, the biological effects of such hybridizations are little understood. In this study, we used colony size as a proxy for vegetative fitness to examine the phenotypic effects of hybridization between these two lineages in a laboratory cross. Two genetically diverged parental strains that differed in their growth at different temperatures and on different media as well as in their susceptibility to the common antifungal drug fluconazole were chosen. A total of 269 progeny were obtained and their vegetative growth was determined in 40 environments that differed in nutrients, temperature, and fluconazole concentration. Our analyses indicated little evidence for outbreeding depression or heterosis in the average vegetative fitness of the hybrid progeny population. The progeny, each of the three environmental variables, and their two-way, three-way, and four-way interactions all contributed significantly to the overall vegetative fitness variation. Interestingly, a variable number of progeny displayed evidence of transgressive segregation in vegetative fitness among the tested environments. Our study suggests that hybridization could play a significant role in the phenotypic evolution of this important human-pathogenic fungus.

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publication date

  • April 2008