Genetic Analyses of a Hybrid Cross Between Serotypes A and D Strains of the Human Pathogenic FungusCryptococcus neoformans
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Cryptococcus neoformans has two varieties, var. grubii and var. neoformans, that correspond to serotypes A and D, respectively. Molecular phylogenetic analyses suggest that these two varieties have diverged from each other for approximately 18 million years. The discovery of pathogenic serotype AD hybrid strains in nature indicates that intervariety mating in C. neoformans occurs in the natural environment. However, little is known about the genetic consequences of hybridization in C. neoformans. Here, we analyzed a hybrid population of 163 progeny from a cross between strains of serotypes A (CDC15) and D (JEC20), using 114 codominant nuclear PCR-RFLP markers and 1 direct PCR marker. These markers were distributed on all 14 chromosomes of the sequenced strain JEC21 that was isogenic to one of the parents (JEC20) in our cross. Our analyses identified that of the 163 progeny, 5 were heterozygous at all 115 loci, 1 was completely homozygous and identical to one of the parents (CDC15), and the remaining 157 each contained at least 1 heterozygous locus. Because all 163 progeny inherited mitochondria from the MATa parent JEC20, none of the progeny had a genotype identical to either of the two parents or to a composite of the two parents. All 115 nuclear loci showed three different genotypes in the progeny population, consistent with Mendelian segregation during meiosis. While the linkage analysis showed independent reassortment among loci on different linkage groups, there were significant differences in recombination frequencies among chromosomes and among regions within certain chromosomes. Overall, the linkage-map length from this hybrid cross was much shorter and the recombination frequency much lower than those constructed using serotype D strains, consistent with suppressed recombination in the intervariety cross between strains of serotypes A and D. We discuss the implications of our results in our understanding of the speciation and evolution of the C. neoformans species complex.
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